Medicare guidelines say you can join, switch or leave a Medicare Advantage plan at these times:
- Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP) - The ICEP is the first chance for you to enroll, when you first become eligible for Medicare. If you are about to turn 65, you can enroll up to three months before and to three months after the month you turn 65.
- Annual Election Period (AEP) – AEP is October 15 through December 7 of every year. You can enroll if you have never enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or if you want to switch plans. Coverage begins January 1 of the following year.
- Open Enrollment Period (OEP) – You may make one change to your health coverage during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. From January 1 to March 31 of each year, you may:
- Switch to another Medicare Advantage plan.
- Disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan and obtain coverage through Original Medicare. If you switch to Original Medicare during this period, you have until March 31 to join a standalone Medicare Prescription Drug plan to receive drug coverage.
- Special Election Period (SEP) – You may be granted an SEP by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), allowing you to change plans during the year outside the AEP or ICEP. SEPs are time sensitive. If you are granted an SEP, you may choose to enroll in a WellCare plan. Some examples of situations where you may be granted an SEP include, but are not limited to:
- You receive Extra Help, also called Low-Income Subsidy (LIS), which is a Medicare program to help people with limited income and resources pay for their Medicare prescription drugs, premiums, deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance. To see if you quality, call the Social Security Office at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778. Or call your state Medicaid office.
- You moved out of the service area.
- You live in an institution.