The 2013 Medicare open enrollment period is nearly here. It runs from October 15th through December 7th – plan changes will not be effective until January 2014.
In insurance speak, this period of time is also referred to as the Annual Election Period and it is the one time during the year when certain insurance changes can be made for Medicare beneficiaries.
There are several changes that Medicare beneficiaries can make during the 2013 Medicare open enrollment window:
If this if your first AEP, it may seem somewhat overwhelming, but if you are happy with your current insurance coverage, then there is nothing that you need to do. The list above is only stating your options.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you want to follow the rules. Enrolling in some plans will make you ineligible for others. Missing certain dates can also have consequences. It is a good idea to work with a knowledgeable agent or agency (like ours) if you are considering any of the above.
If you are already enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA) coverage and like the design of these plans, then you can shop for and enroll in similar coverage with another (or the same) carrier if you find a plan that better meets your needs.
We can help you compare plans beginning on October 1st, but enrollment must take place between Oct. 15th and Dec. 7th. Your new coverage will become effective as of January 1st 2014.
It is important to learn all the details of any new coverage you might be considering as Medicare Advantage plans can differ quite a bit. That is to say a PFFS plan will differ from a HMO, PPO or Medical Savings Account. And you’ll also want to ask how any changes will affect your prescription drug coverage.
Your options for changing Part D coverage may differ depending on whether you will be enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan. Some MA plans already offer drug coverage and some do not.
If you are considering changing your Part D coverage, you will want to make sure it does not affect any MA (Medicare Advantage) plan you are considering. Enrolling in a stand-alone Part D plan can automatically dis-enroll you from some MA plans!
By rule, most Medicare supplements (not all) do not offer drug coverage. Typically, prescription Part D is offered on a stand-alone basis and is separate from traditional Medicare supplements life Plans F, G, and N. Changing to a new Part D plan will have no effect on most supplements.
Finally, there can be penalties for those who enroll late in Part D coverage. It’s a lot to know to be sure – so speak with an agent to make sure that you are operating within the Medicare guidelines.
During the 2013 Medicare open enrollment window (also called the Annual Election Period or AEP for short) you can leave original FFS (Fee for Service) Medicare to join a Medicare Advantage plan.
You can also plan to leave your MA plan to rejoin FFS Medicare A & B and purchase a stand alone Part D plan.
Either change will become effective January 1, 2014.
There are several reasons you might consider making either of these changes and each decision has its own ramifications.
This is not to say that one is good and one is bad, rather that it is important to know how these changes affect your ability to enroll in other types of Medicare insurance.
The ins and outs of the two scenarios above can be somewhat complex. If you are considering either for the first time, please feel free to contact us and we can discuss your options and the Medicare rules.
If you are currently enrolled in a traditional Medicare supplement insurance plan and simply shopping for lower rates, then the 2013 Medicare open enrollment window will have little bearing on your options.
In most states, you can change Medicare supplements any time you wish. The process will be the same as insurance companies will require some amount of medical underwriting to prove you are insurable.
In some states (like MO and CA) there are specific, individual yearly anniversary periods when you can switch Medicare supplement insurance coverage without medical underwriting, but these are the exceptions to the rule.
The bottom line is the Annual Election Period does not provide a window to purchase a new Medicare supplement without medical underwriting. And this is the time of year when Medicare supplement prices are typically going up for the next year. Thus, it can be advantageous to shop for and change your supplemental coverage before the fall season when possible.
Hyers and Associates is an independent insurance agency specializing in Medicare insurance policies of all kinds. We work in several states and are licensed with many, many insurance companies.
If you are unsure of your options during the 2013 Medicare open enrollment window, then please contact us. We will be happy to help you compare plans and advise you on your options.