Medicare Enrollment Periods and You
Medicare and Medigap Plans
There’s a lot of confusion and misinformation out there regarding Medicare enrollment periods. Since the birth of Medicare Part D and MAPD in 2006, Medicare beneficiaries became constrained to an Annual Enrollment Period called AEP for these plans. However, this is not the case at all for Medicare Supplement or Medigap plans.
These Medigap plans do not have an enrollment period at all. For 2019, CMS has now created one more enrollment period called the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period that allows one to change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan. Or, one can get out of a Medicare Advantage plan and back onto original Medicare with a supplement.
We will break down each main type of coverage and the rules and dates that apply for both Medicare coverage types below.
Medicare Supplement and Advantage Plans
Medicare Supplement plans that go alongside your original Medicare have no enrollment periods affixed to them. However, these plans can be medically underwritten meaning the insurance carrier can ask health questions on an application for insurance and potentially deny your application based on any pre-existing conditions you may have.
That is why it is very important you enroll into a supplement within 6 months of your eligibility for part B to avoid this medical underwriting. So long as you enroll close to your part B effective date, you can pick up this supplemental insurance without having to answer the health questionnaire and you can never be canceled once you obtain your policy for any reason other than non-payment of premium.
A Medicare Advantage plan or stand-alone part D drug plan has different rules altogether. Unless you’re in a special enrollment period or your initial coverage period and want to change your plan, you must do so during one of two enrollment periods.
Annual Enrollment Period
First, you can make a change to one of these plans during the AEP (Annual Enrollment Period) that runs from October 15th through December 7th of each year. You can submit as many applications as you want and the last application Medicare receives before the deadline will be the one that you ultimately become enrolled in for a January 1st effective date. You will not need to cancel your existing Advantage or part D plan because Medicare will automatically make the change on your behalf after receiving your new application during these dates in AEP.
The Second Enrollment Period
The second enrollment period is new for 2019 and thereafter and runs from January 1st through March 31st of each year. During this time you may make one selection to a new Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage. But, you may not change from one drug plan to another stand-alone drug plan during this time. The reason Medicare imposes these enrollment periods is that these Medicare Advantage plans have little medical underwriting associated with them. In order to make the system work, plans need you enrolled for at least a year at a time to avoid adverse claims experience.
Contact Us and We’ll Walk You Through the Process
If you have a supplemental plan and your rates have increased we can shop this now, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars per year in the process. Please call us at (866) 341 8542) or click the quotation link HERE . From this link, you can view several highly rated insurers instantly without having to speak with an agent. Or you can call us and will gladly answer all your questions and quickly give you price comparisons at no cost or obligation to you.
If you are under an advantage plan and want us to contact you during one of these enrollment periods, please complete our contact form on our site. We will call you in advance of the enrollment period with valuable information about the next year’s plans and pricing and see if one of these options might be a better fit for you.
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