Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period Ends March 31, 2007

March 27, 2007

The Open Enrollment Period (OEP) during which Medicare beneficiaries can make one election to change in certain kinds of plans, ends on March 31, 2007. The Open Enrollment Period applies to individuals who are changing Medicare Advantage (MA) plans or enrolling in or disenrolling from MA plans.

During the OEP, beneficiaries may switch from:
-a medicare Advantage prescription drug plan (MA-PD) to another MA-PD or original Medicare with a Prescription Drug Plan (PDP);
-one MA-only plan (no prescription drug coverage) to another MA only plan or original Medicare with no drug coverage;
-original Medicare with a PDP to a MA-PD; or
-original Medicare with no drug coverage to a MA-only plan.

A beneficiary may make only one of these changes during an OEP. For a visual representation of the options, see the Health Assistance Partnership’s chart at

An OEP cannot be used to enroll in prescription drug coverage for the first time or to drop prescription drug coverage entirely; it also cannot be used to switch from one (non-Medicare Advantage) prescription drug plan to another (non-Medicare Advantage) prescription drug plan. In short, one cannot use the OEP to switch from a PDP to another PDP.

Medicaid beneficiaries have a continuous Special Enrollment Period that allows them to switch into or out of Medicare Advantage plans (including plans with Part D coverage) at anytime.

The landscape of enrollment options and limitations for Medicare beneficiaries, particularly with respect to prescription drug benefit coverage, is complex. Aggressive marketing by plans can add to the confusion and lead to mistakes and problems.

Source: Washington Weekly, volume XXXIII, Issue No. 11, March 16, 2007.