Many Medicare beneficiaries have enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan at some point only to realize, in January, that their doctor wasn’t in-network. Or they realized they had a network they needed to stay in. For many seniors, this meant staying in a plan that wasn’t best for them for an entire year.
The coming year Medicare beneficiaries will see many changes and most of them are beneficial. In 2010, lawmakers did away with the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, and now they are bringing it back.
You can easily become confused when talking about the Open Enrollment Period since there are many different enrollment periods referred to as an “Open Enrollment Period,” correctly and incorrectly. This Open Enrollment Period is for Medicare Advantage plan recipients and will begin on January 1 and end on March 31.
The Open Enrollment Period Returns
The Medicare Open Enrollment system will now replace the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP) that has traditionally been from January 1 until February 14 of every year.
This was an opportunity to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare. The option to enroll in another plan wasn’t available to Medicare recipients during this time.
Now, things are changing. The new Medicare changes of 2019 will make changes from the unsuitable Medicare Advantage plan to a more suitable plan, possible.
During this time beneficiaries will get a one-time opportunity to change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan. You may also disenroll for the Medicare Advantage program altogether and switch to Traditional Medicare. You can do either with or without a Part D Prescription Drug plan.
If you’re Medicare eligible and you are enrolled in a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan, then you will need to make changes to your Part D Prescription Drug plan during AEP (October 15 through December 7 of every year).
By the end of September each year, by September 30th, Medicare Advantage recipients will be sent an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and also an Evidence of Coverage (EOC) notification from their existing insurance carrier for their Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription drug plan providers.
When they receive this information, it’s their responsibility to note changes and adjust their coverage if needed. Another important change is to Medicare Part F, which will be going away in 2020.
Open Enrollment Period Confusion
I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Open Enrollment Period” before, especially if you’ve been on Medicare for a while. Well for those that get confused easily, this is for you:
Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment
The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment is for beneficiaries that just turned 65 or are new to Medicare. This period lasts 6 months and will begin on the first day of the same month that you turn 65 and are also enrolled in Medicare Part B.
For example, if you turn 65 on April 2nd, and then you join Medicare Part B on May 20th. Your Medicare Supplement Enrollment will start on June 1st, which is the first day of the month in which you will be both 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
Mistakenly called “Open Enrollment Period.”
Medicare can be confusing, especially all the enrollment periods. The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is from October 15th through December 7th, this enrollment period has been incorrectly called the Open Enrollment Period.
When Medicare beneficiaries turn 65, they become eligible for the Initial Enrollment Period, this gives beneficiaries 7 months to enroll into a Medicare Advantage plan. This enrollment period is commonly mistaken for an Open Enrollment Period, it’s clearly being confused with the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period.
Beneficiaries Need to Know
Each year by September 30th, Medicare Advantage plan recipients will receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) from their existing insurance carrier for their Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription drug plan providers.
CMS posts their plan changes for the following year sometime in October. They will give you several months before the new year. Medicare.gov is also a valuable resource for Medicare beneficiaries. You can use it to compare plans, look up information, and learn more about Medicare.
As a Medicare recipient, the best thing you can do is make changes during AEP, changes that you’ll be pleased with for the following year.