Medicare beneficiaries interested in Medicare Advantage plans sometimes wonder if they can enroll in more than one plan at the same time. The short answer is no – you can only be enrolled in one Medicare Advantage plan at a given time. Here’s an overview of the rules around multiple Medicare Advantage plan enrollment and what your options are if you want coverage from more than one insurer.
Medicare Advantage Enrollment Basics
Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, allows private insurers to offer Medicare benefits to beneficiaries through managed care plans like HMOs and PPOs. These plans must cover all Medicare Part A and Part B services, but can also offer extra benefits not included in original Medicare.
To enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must:
- Have Medicare Part A and Part B
- Live in the plan’s service area
- Be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
You can join during various enrollment periods, like the Annual Election Period from October 15 to December 7 each year. Your coverage effective date will depend on when you enroll.
The One Enrollment Rule
A key Medicare Advantage enrollment rule is that you can only be enrolled in one plan at a time from the same company. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) does not allow someone to have two or more Medicare Advantage plans simultaneously.
If you enroll in more than one MA plan from different insurers for the same effective coverage date, it will trigger a rejection process:
The first plan you enrolled in will process your enrollment if you are eligible.
The second plan will then reject your application once they see you already have existing Medicare Advantage coverage scheduled to begin.
If this second plan processes your enrollment before seeing you already joined the first plan, they will terminate your enrollment retroactively once the issue is identified.
Having concurrent Medicare Advantage enrollments with the same effective date will disrupt your coverage, so it’s essential to follow the one plan rule. Make sure to coordinate plan changes carefully.
What If I Want Coverage from Two Insurers?
In some cases, you may want benefits from two Medicare Advantage insurers at the same time, like:
You move between two homes in different plan service areas seasonally.
Your preferred doctors and pharmacies are in different plan networks.
You want access to extra benefits from two plans.
Though you can’t have two Advantage plans concurrently, you have a couple options in this situation:
Switch Plans at Different Times
See if you can stagger your enrollment in the two plans rather than having them overlapping on the same dates. For example:
- Plan 1: January – April
- Plan 2: May – December
This works best if you’ll be living in the different plan regions during distinct portions of the year. Just coordinate carefully at transition times.
Original Medicare Plus One Advantage Plan
Another option is enroll in just one Medicare Advantage plan and keep original Medicare for the other portion of the year:
- Plan 1: January – April
- Original Medicare: May – December
You’ll need to disenroll from the Advantage plan to go back to original Medicare for part of the year.
Enroll in Plan Extras or Buy Supplemental Coverage
Finally, you may be able to get some of the key benefits from your second insurer by enrolling in extras:
- Medicare Advantage Plan 1
- Dental/vision/hearing coverage from Plan 2
Or you could get a supplemental policy like Medigap or a drug plan along with your main Advantage plan enrollment.
Avoiding Multiple Plan Enrollment Issues
To prevent Medicare Advantage dual enrollment rejections and changes:
Only submit one plan application at a time during enrollment periods.
Notify your first plan before applying elsewhere to avoid overlaps.
If you applied to more than one, withdraw redundant applications.
Carefully review effective dates to ensure no dual enrollments.
Following Medicare Advantage rules allows you to avoid coverage gaps and changes. With smart planning, you can still mix and match insurers over the course of a year.
You can only be enrolled in one Medicare Advantage plan at a time.
Concurrent enrollments will lead to disruptions and terminations.
Stagger plans over the year or mix Medicare and Advantage to mix and match.
Avoid applying to multiple plans for the same date span.
Notify insurers if you applied to more than one plan.
Coordinating enrollment periods and effective dates is crucial to ensuring you have continuous Medicare Advantage coverage. Seek help if you have any questions about overlapping plans.
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