The 2020 Medicare open enrollment period is fast approaching. It runs from October 15th through December 7th – plan changes will not be effective until January 2021. Our agents are busy training so we can discuss important new plan benefits, costs and features.
In insurance speak, this period of time is also referred to as the Annual Election Period or AEP for short. It is the one time during the year when certain insurance changes can be made for Medicare beneficiaries.
Allowable Insurance Changes During AEP
There are several changes Medicare beneficiaries can make during the 2020 Medicare open enrollment window:
- Changing Medicare Advantage Plans
- Enrolling in a new Prescription Part D Drug Plan
- Leaving Medicare Advantage to rejoin Original Medicare
- Leaving Original Medicare to join a Medicare Advantage Plan
- Shopping for less expensive Medicare Supplement coverage
If this if your first AEP, it may seem confusing, but if you’re happy with your current insurance coverage, there is nothing that you need to do. The list above is only stating your options.
The most important advice to keep in mind is following 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. There is no cost to do so.
Switching Medicare Advantage Coverage During AEP
If you are already enrolled in Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) coverage, 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. Sometime plans change year over year and there are plans that reduce your premiums and/or out of pocket exposure. Other times a new plan might offer a better network of doctors and hospitals.
We can help you compare plans starting October 1st, but enrollment must take place between Oct. 15th and Dec. 7th. Your new coverage will become effective as of January 1st 2021.
It is important to learn all the details of any new coverage you might be considering. 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.
And some plans offer new benefits like a free gym membership, rides to your healthcare provider, meals during recovery periods and/or dental and vision insurance. There’s a lot to compare
Purchasing A New Prescription Part D Plan
Your options for changing Part D coverage may differ depending on whether you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan. Some Advantage plans 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, all Medicare supplements sold today do not offer drug coverage. Typically, prescription Part D policies are offered on a stand-alone basis. They are separate from traditional Medicare supplements life Plans F, G, and N. Changing to a new Part D plan will have no effect on your Medicare Supplement plan.
Finally, there can be penalties for those who enroll late in Part D drug coverage. If you’re not sure about how enrollment deadlines personally affect you, then contact us.
Leaving Or Joining Original Medicare A & B
During the 2020 Medicare AEP open enrollment window, you can leave original FFS (Fee for Service) Medicare to join a Medicare Advantage plan.
You can also plan 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, 2021.
There are several reasons you might consider making either of these changes and each decision has its own ramifications. This is not to say one is better than the other, rather that it’s 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 make sure you understand how that might affect your ability to make changes the following year. It’s best to talk with someone who does this on a daily basis. It’s easy to make mistakes.
Shopping For A New Medicare Supplement Plan
If you are currently enrolled in a traditional Medicare supplement insurance plan and shopping for lower rates, then the 2020 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. These states are the exceptions to the rule. Most times, you must pass medical underwriting to switch to a plan with lower premiums.
The Annual Election Period does not provide you with 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.
2020 Medicare Open Enrollment Assistance
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 2020 Medicare open enrollment window, then contact us. We will be happy to help you compare plans and advise you on your options.