If you want to join a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, you must have Medicare Parts A and B. Your Part B premium will continue to be taken out of your Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits check, unless you are enrolled in a Medicare Savings Program (MSP) or have full Medi-Cal. See our section on Low-Income Help.
You cannot be denied enrollment in an MA plan due to a pre-existing condition, unless you have end-stage renal disease (ESRD) — permanent kidney failure (see Medicare and People with ESRD (PDF) for more information). If you develop ESRD while enrolled in an MA plan, the plan cannot disenroll you.
If you want to join an MA plan, you must reside in the plan’s service area and the plan you choose must be accepting new members.
You can only join MA plans during certain periods:
- Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP): The 7-month period when you are first eligible for Medicare
- Annual Election Period (AEP): October 15 – December 7 each year
In addition, there are Special Election Periods (SEPs) during which you may be able to enroll in or disenroll from your MA plan, depending on your situation. See Special Election Periods (SEPs).