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Part C

How to Enroll in a 2024 Medicare Advantage Plan

Medicare requires that you enroll, disenroll, or make changes to your Medicare Advantage plan only during pre-determined enrollment periods.

Note: The fall 2023 Medicare open enrollment period is going on now and lasts until December 7. For many beneficiaries, this is the only time of year to make changes to their 2024 Medicare plan coverage.

Learn about Medicare Advantage plan options in your ZIP code and compare plans online for free or call to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help you compare plans. If you’re eligible and if you have a qualifying enrollment period, a licensed agent can help you enroll in a plan or you can apply online.

If you don’t qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, you will need to wait for the fall Medicare Open Enrollment Period (Oct. 15 – Dec. 7 every year).

We represent carriers such as Humana, UnitedHealthcare®, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna Healthcare, Wellcare, or Kaiser Permanente.

Compare plans today.

Speak with a licensed insurance agent

1-800-557-6059

Over 30.8 million Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C) in 2023.1 But how and when can you enroll in a Part C plan?

Medicare requires that you enroll, disenroll or make changes to your Medicare Advantage plan only during pre-determined enrollment periods.

You can call to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help determine your eligibility and help you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan if you're eligible.

When can you join a Medicare Advantage plan?

Once you find a Medicare Advantage plan in your area you wish to enroll in, you may be able to apply online or over the phone if you’re eligible and have a qualifying enrollment period.

When you apply for coverage, you must provide your Medicare number and the dates that your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage began. These dates are listed on your Medicare card.

Learn more about when you may be able to enroll in, leave or make changes to a Medicare Advantage plan.

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

Each person who becomes eligible for Medicare will be granted an Initial Enrollment Period where they may enroll in Medicare for the very first time.

Your Medicare IEP typically begins three months before you turn 65 years old, include the month of your birthday and continue on for three additional months for a total of seven months.

Example: You turn 65 on June 5. Your Initial Enrollment Period starts on March 1 (3 full months before June) and ends September 30 (3 full months after June).

If you become eligible for Medicare before 65 due to a qualifying disability, you may be able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan after you have been getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits for 24 full months.

After that point, you have 7 full months to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan. Your coverage will begin on your 25th month of receiving disability benefits.

If you have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), you are eligible for Medicare the first month you receive your disability benefits.

If you have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), you may also be able to enroll in Medicare Advantage plan if you qualify for Medicare because your kidneys no longer function, you need regular dialysis or have had a kidney transplant and if:

  • You worked for the amount of time required by Social Security, the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) or as a government employee
  • You are already eligible for or already get Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits
  • You’re the spouse or dependent child of a person who meets the above requirements

Fall Medicare Open Enrollment Period

The fall Medicare Open Enrollment Period is also sometimes called the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).

The fall open enrollment period for Medicare occurs every year from October 15 to December 7.

During this time, beneficiaries can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, switch Medicare Advantage plans or drop a plan entirely to remain on Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B).

Special Enrollment Period (SEP)

Depending on your circumstances, you may potentially qualify for a Medicare Special Enrollment Period (SEP) if you experience certain qualifying life events, including but not limited to:

  • Changing where you live
  • Losing your current Medicare Advantage plan through no fault of your own
  • Having your plan change its contract with Medicare

Call to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help determine if you are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.

How to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan

Before you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B.

Once you are enrolled in Part A and Part B, you can call to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, if you're eligible and have a qualifying enrollment period.

You can also compare price of Medicare Advantage plans online and enroll in a plan online if you're eligible and have a qualifying enrollment period.

Compare plans today.

Speak with a licensed insurance agent

1-800-557-6059

If you need to sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B, you can do so in several ways:

What Are the Benefits of Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan?

Also known as Medicare Part C, Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private insurance companies and serve as an alternative way to receive your Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) benefits.

Medicare Advantage plans are required to provide at least the same benefits as Original Medicare, and plans can offer more benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t cover. 

A Medicare Advantage plan can include coverage for one or more of the following benefits not covered by Original Medicare:

The availability of Medicare Advantage plans in your area will vary, and plans that offer benefits like those listed above may not be available where you live. There are several types of Medicare Advantage plans, and the availability of each type of plan will also vary based on your location.

The major types of Medicare Advantage plans include:

When comparing Medicare Advantage plans, it’s important to consider the type of plan you want, the benefits offered and the availability of plans where you live.

Medicare Advantage costs

The premiums, deductibles, copays and coinsurance costs for Medicare Advantage plans may vary from one plan to the next.

It can be helpful to compare plans online or to call and speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help you compare plans. You'll be able to learn about all of the costs associated with available plans, which can help you make a decision that works best for your budget.

Medicare Advantage where you live

Some types of plans may be available in certain regions of a state but not in others. Some plans may come with certain premiums and other costs in one part of a state while the same plan features different costs in another county.

Some health insurance companies and Medicare Advantage plan providers may also offer plans in one part of a state but not in others.

Learn more about Medicare Advantage plan costs and availability in your county and state.

Find a Medicare Advantage plan in your area

Call to speak with a licensed insurance agent today to discuss your eligibility and find out how to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan that’s right for your needs. We represent carriers such as Humana, UnitedHealthcare®, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna Healthcare, Wellcare, or Kaiser Permanente.

Compare plans today.

Speak with a licensed insurance agent

1-800-557-6059

Learn more about Medicare enrollment

Christian

About the author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with MedicareAdvantage.com. He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

Christian has written hundreds of articles for MedicareAvantage.com that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at Mike@tzhealthmedia.com.

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1 Ochieng N, et al. (Aug 9, 2023). Medicare Advantage in 2023: Enrollment Update and Key Trends. Kaiser Family Foundation. www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/medicare-advantage-in-2023-enrollment-update-and-key-trends.