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SHINE: Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone

Can I still change my Medicare Plan?

Lorraine York Edberg headshotLorraine York-EdbergThe 2017 Medicare Open Enrollment period ended on December 7, but some people may still be allowed to change plans.

For those with a Medicare Advantage Plan: Between January 1 and February 14, you can leave your plan and switch to Original Medicare, but you cannot switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan. If you drop your Medicare Advantage plan during this period, you will be able to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to add drug coverage. Your Original Medicare coverage and your prescription drug coverage will begin the first day of the month after your enrollment. You may also add a supplement (Medigap) at this time. This could be very helpful for those who missed the Annual Open Enrollment Period and wish to make a change.

Additionally, for those who are dually eligible for Medicare and MassHealth or those with Prescription Advantage, the state of Massachusetts Prescription Assistance Program or Medicare beneficiaries eligible for Low Income Subsidy program administered through Social Security, also known as “Extra Help,” a program that assists with drug plan premiums and lowering the costs of prescription drugs:

  • You can change your plan anytime during the year.
  • Those who are dual eligible or have “Extra Help” can change every month.
  • Those with Prescription Advantage members can do this only once each year.

For those of you that found your medications were not covered under your current plan this year, you may still have some options. You should make an appointment to review your circumstances with a trained SHINE counselor.

Trained SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Everyone… on Medicare) volunteers can help you! The SHINE program, Serving Health Information Needs of Everyone, provides free, confidential and unbiased health insurance counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. To reach a trained and certified counselor in your area, contact the Regional Office at 1-800-498-4232 or 413-773-5555 or contact your local Council on Aging. For other SHINE related matters, call 1-800-AGE-INFO (1-800-243-4636), then press or say 3. Once you get the SHINE answering machine, leave your name and number. A volunteer will call you back, as soon as possible.