If you haven’t even looked at Medicare Advantage Plans because you were afraid that your health wouldn’t allow you to join, think again. You can join one of the Medicare Advantage Plans even if you have pre-existing health problems, with the exception of end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
While you typically can’t join with ESRD, there are a few exceptions to that rule, too. You can keep a Medicare Advantage Plan you already have or join another plan with that same insurer under certain circumstances if you develop ESRD after you are enrolled.
When a company, employer or union you already have health coverage with offers Medicare Advantage Plans, you may still be able to join one in spite of having ESRD. You may also be able to join after a successful kidney transplant surgery or if a Medicare Special Needs Plan for ESRD is available in your area.
In 2010, open enrollment lasts until December 31, but open enrollment changes next year. You’ll be able to enroll between October 15 and December 7 every year beginning in 2011. Learn more about your Medicare Advantage options on our website.

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.