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Who qualifies for a Medicare Advantage Plan? You will if you meet some basic conditions: you have to live in the service area of the plan you join, you have to have Medicare Part A and Part B and you cannot have End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure which necessitates dialysis or a transplant). Once you know you qualify choose a plan carefully because, in most cases, you can only change plans once a year, though there are some exceptions to this.
After you meet the basic conditions you need to look over the various plans to make sure they fit your needs and budget. You can then join a plan by filling out a paper application, enrolling via a company’s website or by calling the plan. Remember you need your Medicare number (on your Medicare card) when you join. You also need the date your Medicare Part A and Part B began.
Remember that you can enroll or change Advantage plans (or other plans) during the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP). This period begins November 15 and ends December 31 for 2010 (plans begin January 1, 2010). These dates change for 2011. In 2011 the AEP begins October 15 and ends on December 7. There are conditions that will allow for enrollment outside the AEP.