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Special circumstances (Special Enrollment Periods)

You can make changes to your Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage when certain events happen in your life, like if you move or you lose other insurance coverage. These chances to make changes are called Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs). Rules about when you can make changes and the type of changes you can make are different for each SEP.

You change where you live

What can I do?

Switch to a new Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

When?

If you tell your plan before you move, your chance to switch plans begins the month before the month you move and continues for 2 full months after you move.

If you tell your plan after you move, your chance to switch plans begins the month you tell your plan, plus 2 more full months.

What can I do?

Switch to a new Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.  

When?

If you tell your plan before you move, your chance to switch plans begins the month before the month you move and continues for 2 full months after you move.

If you tell your plan after you move, your chance to switch plans begins the month you tell your plan, plus 2 more full months.

What can I do?

Join a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

When?

Your chance to join lasts for 2 full months after the month you move back to the U.S.

What can I do?

  • Join a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Switch from your current plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Drop your Medicare Advantage Plan and return to Original Medicare.
  • Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage.

When?

Your chance to join, switch, or drop coverage lasts as long as you live in the institution and for 2 full months after the month you move out of the institution.

What can I do?

Join a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

When?

Your chance to join lasts for 2 full months after the month you're released from jail.

You lose your current coverage

What can I do?

  • Join a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Switch from your current plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Drop your Medicare Advantage Plan and return to Original Medicare.
  • Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage.

When? 

Your chance to change lasts for 2 full months after the month you find out you're no longer eligible for Medicaid.
If you lose your coverage for the following year, your chance to change is between January 1–March 31.

What can I do?

Join a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

When?

Your chance to join lasts for 2 full months after the month your coverage ends.

What can I do?

Join a Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage or a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

When?

Your chance to join lasts for 2 full months after the month you lose your creditable coverage or you're notified that your current coverage is no longer creditable, whichever is later.

What can I do?

Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

When?

Your chance to join lasts for 2 full months after you drop your Medicare Cost Plan.

What can I do?

Join a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

When?

Your chance to join lasts for 2 full months after the month you drop your Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) plan.

You have a chance to get other coverage

What can I do?

Drop your current Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to enroll in the private plan offered by your employer or union.

When?

Whenever your employer or union allows you to make changes in your plan.

What can I do?

Drop your current Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage or your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

When?

Anytime.

What can I do?

Drop your current Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

When?

Anytime.

Your plan changes its contract with Medicare

What can I do?

Switch from your Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another plan.

When?

Your chance to switch is determined by Medicare on a case-by-case basis.

What can I do?

Switch from your Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another plan.

When?

Your chance to switch starts 2 months before and ends 1 full month after the contract ends.

What can I do?

Join another Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

When?

December 8–the last day in February.

Other special situations

What can I do?

Join, switch, or drop your Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare prescription drug coverage.

When?

Anytime.

What can I do?

Join, switch, or drop Medicare prescription drug coverage.

When?

Anytime.Your coverage will begin the first day of the month after you qualify for Extra Help and ask to join a plan.

What can I do?

Join either a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan with prescription drug coverage.

When?

Once during the calendar year.

What can I do?

Drop your Medicare Advantage Plan and enroll in Original Medicare. You'll have special rights to buy a Medigap policy.

When?

Your chance to drop your Medicare Advantage Plan lasts for 12 months after you join the Medicare Advantage Plan for the first time.

What can I do?

Join a Medicare Chronic Care Special Needs Plan (SNP).

When?

You can join anytime, but once you join, your chance to make changes using this SEP ends.

What can I do?

Switch from a Special Needs Plan (SNP) to a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

When?

You can choose a new plan starting from the time you lose your special needs status, up to 3 months after your SNP's grace period ends.

What can I do?

  • Join a Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage or a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Switch from your current plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage or a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Drop your Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage and return to Original Medicare.
  • Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage.

When?

Your chance to change coverage lasts for 2 full months after the month you get a notice of the error from Medicare.

What can I do?

Join a Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage or a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

When?

Your chance to join lasts for 2 full months after the month you get a notice of the error from Medicare or your plan.

What can I do?

Join a Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage or a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

When?

Your chance to join lasts for 2 full months after the month you get a notice of the error from Medicare or your plan.