How Do I Get A Medicare Advantage Plan?

Determine Which Advantage Plan is in Your Area

Advantage Plans are "Area Specific" which means that you can only join a plan that covers your primary residence. If you live in more than one location an Advantage Plan may not be the best alternative because you will have to pay more for using out of area providers for non-emergencies. Emergency and urgent care is covered anywhere in the United States. You can use the Plan Finder on the Medicare website to determine which plans are available.

Determine if you are Eligible for Advantage

Once you have found a plan in your area you can sign up for the Advantage Plan anytime during your seven month Initial Enrollment Period. You must be eligible or already signed up for both Medicare Part A and Part B to qualify for an Advantage Plan. Most ESRD patients will not qualify for Medicare Advantage. Individuals who have additional types of medical coverage through their retirement benefits or through work may also not want to sign up for an Advantage Plan. Advantage Plans cannot be used in conjunction with other types of coverage. Before switching to an Advantage Plan check with your current insurance or benefits representative to determine whether or not your current benefits can be used with Medicare Advantage.

Signing up for Advantage During Open Enrollment

Every year from October 15th to December 7th you have the opportunity to sign up for Medicare Advantage. This is known as the Open Enrollment Period. Special Circumstances will allow you to switch to Advantage during other times of the year.

Application can be done through the private company or through Medicare and you can either fill out a paper application or call the new plan's representative on the phone. Have your SSN and your Medicare card available when you call. Call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE to enroll or enroll on their website at: http://www.medicare.gov. Enrolling in the new plan will cause your old plan to dis-enroll you.

Auntie Lou says, "Set up a file and document every phone call and email interaction you have related to any interaction with Medicare or the Advantage Plan. If you ever have any problems or questions related to the insurance in the future you can make copies and send it in as proof. We all save so much unimportant stuff- this REALLY is IMPORTANT if you ever need to file an appeal"