How to Cancel Medicare

In this article...
  • You may have several opportunities to cancel Medicare if you decide you want to change or switch your Medicare plan coverage. Learn the times of year that you can change Medicare coverage and make sure you understand the consequences before you make a switch.

Most people cancel their previous health insurance when they enroll in Medicare. However, you might find yourself in a situation where you want to cancel your Medicare coverage to pursue other health insurance options. 

in this article, we’ll walk you through the process of cancelling both public and private Medicare insurance.  

Can You Cancel Original Medicare?

Original Medicare, or Medicare Part A and Part B, is administered by the federal government through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). 

There is really only one reason a beneficiary might choose to cancel Medicare Part A. Being enrolled in Medicare makes you ineligible to contribute to an HSA (Health Savings Account). So if you are enrolled in an HSA and want to keep contributing to it, you may have reason to cancel your Medicare insurance if you were automatically enrolled.

To cancel Medicare Part A, fill out CMS form 1763 and return it to your local Social Security office. 

Most people do not pay a premium for Medicare Part A, and Part A works with many other types of health insurance as either a primary or supplemental payer, so it’s typically not a problem to have Medicare if you also have other health insurance, such as an insurance plan provided by your employer or a union. 

If you’re automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B when you turn 65, you have the option to opt out of Part B. Check the back of your Medicare card that you received in the mail along with your Medicare welcome packet. The back of the card contains instructions for opting out of Part B, which includes filling out CMS form 1763 and speaking to a Social Security representative at your local Social Security office or by calling 1-800-772-1213 to make sure you fully understand your decision. 

How Do You Cancel You Private Medicare Plan?

You typically have to wait for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP, also called the fall Medicare Open Enrollment Period) to cancel a Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) or Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. The fall Open Enrollment Period takes place from October 15 to December 7 every year. During this time, you may disenroll from your Part C or Part D plan and return to Original Medicare or enroll in a different Part C or Part D plan. 

From Jan. 1 to March 31 each year you can use the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period to drop your current Medicare Advantage plan and enroll in another Medicare Advantage plan. You can’t switch from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare plan during this period, however. 

You may also cancel your Medicare Advantage enrollment during your Initial Enrollment Period, which is the 7-month period that you first become eligible for Medicare. If you signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan during this period but decide to cancel the plan before this period ends, you can do so without any penalty.

Lastly, you may be able to cancel a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period for various reasons, such as moving to a new location that isn’t in your current plan’s service area.

You may cancel a Medicare Supplement plan (also called Medigap) at any time by simply contacting your plan and notifying them that you wish to cancel. You should note, however, that if you cancel your Medigap plan and don’t qualify for a guaranteed issue right, you will likely face medical underwriting if you decide to apply for another Medigap plan in the future. This means that an insurance company can use your medical history to determine your plan premium costs and whether to issue you a plan in the first place.

Do You Have to Take Medicare When You Turn 65?

The answer is no. If you are collecting Social Security retirement benefits or Railroad Retirement Board benefits at least four months before you turn 65, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B.

If you choose to delay your Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board retirement benefits, you will not be automatically enrolled in Medicare when you turn 65. In this case, you will have to manually enroll if you want to be covered by Medicare. 

Many people who are still working and covered by an employer health insurance policy at age 65 may choose to delay Medicare Part B coverage until they retire and are no longer covered by the employer’s plan. 

As with many questions about Medicare, you may call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) with questions about cancelling Part A or Part B coverage.

You should contact your plan carrier directly if you want to cancel a Medicare Advantage, Part D or Medigap plan.