Medicare is restoring the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) for 2019. This enrollment window will begin January 1st and go through March 31st. You may have some options if you find yourself in a Medicare insurance plan that does not meet your needs.
This window is much different than the Annual Election Period (AEP) that runs from October 15th through December 7th. There are only a few changes consumers can make during OEP, but it’s very important to know your options.
This enrollment period existed once before and Medicare officials have brought it back to help consumers find the insurance coverage that best suits their needs. There are only a couple of changes that can be made, so you don’t want to count on the OEP window for everything. It’s still very important that you make wise decisions during the AEP window in the fall.
This new(ish) window primarily applies to Medicare Advantage plans – and they must be “like plans.” In other words, you would not be able to switch from a MAPD (Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug) plan to a MA (Medicare Advantage) plan because the MA plan does not offer prescription drug coverage and is therefore not the same.
Here are the changes that can be made:
Importantly, you are only allowed one change. Your change will become effective the first of the next month. For example, if you made a coverage change in January, then it would not become effective until February 1st.
One thing you must know is that if you’re enrolled in a Stand Alone Prescription Part D Drug plan, you cannot change to a new Stand Alone Part D plan during OEP. If you own a Part D drug plan, it’s usually because you have paired it with a Medicare supplement.
Many consumers discover (too late) that they’re drug plan has changed year over year. If you do not shop for new coverage during the Annual Election Period (AEP) in the fall, then the OEP window is of little help. It’s very important to work with your agent and price your stand alone drug plan during the fall.
However, if your Part D plan is tied to a MAPD (Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug) policy, then you do have options. You can shop (one-time) for a new MAPD plan, or move back to Original Medicare and buy a Stand Alone Part D plan – and perhaps a Medicare supplement too.
And if you really want out of your Stand Alone Part D plan, you could move to a MAPD plan, but you would no longer be on Original Medicare and you would not be able to keep your Medicare supplement policy if you had one.
The new OEP window has little bearing on Medicare supplement insurance. In most states, there is no Open Enrollment for Medicare supplements plans. However, if you’re dropping an MA or MAPD plan during the OEP window, then you can apply for Medicare supplement insurance.
Depending on your circumstances, medical underwriting may be required, however. You could be turned down for poor health. You may want to secure approval for a Supplement (like Plans F, G or N) before making any changes.
We understand that all of this can be somewhat confusing. Having back-to-back enrollment windows in the fall and the winter is a lot to ask. That’s why it’s so important to work with a knowledgeable, independent Medicare insurance broker.
Here at Hyers and Associates, we work extensively with Medicare supplements, Advantage plans, and Part D drug policies. Contact us today and we will help you navigate the Medicare maze.
Category: Medicare Advantage