Generally, you can join, drop or switch Medicare Advantage Plans during the seven-month period you are first eligible to enroll in Medicare. You may also join during the annual enrollment period between October 15 and December 7.
In addition, Medicare Advantage Plans are now rated by the federal government for quality and those that earn a five-star rating can sign people up all year long. That’s also true for Part D Prescription Drug Plans.
You may be able to change Medicare Advantage Plans at other times, such as if you move out of a plan’s service area, live in an institution or qualify for Extra Help (a low-income subsidy). Both people age 65 or older and people under 65 who qualify for Medicare due to disability can apply for Advantage Plans.
Medicare Advantage Plans actually combine the benefits of Medicare Part A, B and D into a single plan, but you do have other options. If you prefer Original Medicare, you may expand your benefits by adding a Medigap Insurance Plan and a Part D Prescription Drug Plan. Medigap Plans, however, do not offer help with dental care, eyeglasses or hearing aids like most Medicare Advantage Plans. We’ll be happy to answer questions for you whether you call us directly or join our Question and Answer Medicare Teleseminar. Just sign up on our website for free and start writing down your questions.

Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage.