What Seniors Need to Know About the New Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
By CJ Bawden, Sales and Marketing Manager of Senior Care Plus
As many of our senior residents know, the 2019 Annual Election Period (AEP) runs from October 15 to December 7. There are a few actions Medicare beneficiaries can take during this time including, but not limited to, making the switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan; switch to a new Medicare Advantage Plan from an existing one; join a Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage plan; or switch from a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another.
What senior residents may not know is that the government has reinstated the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP) to the calendar beginning in 2019. From January 1 to March 31, plan members will be able to make changes to their existing plan. The Open Enrollment Period will take the place of the existing Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period.
So, how does OEP differ from the Annual Election Period? First, the changes plan members can make are slightly more limited than the AEP. Plan members are permitted to:
- Switch from an existing Medicare Advantage Plan, to a new Medicare Advantage Plan.
- Like the original Disenrollment period, drop existing Medicare Advantage coverage and return to Original Medicare, Parts A and B.
- Join or disenroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Note, most Medicare Advantage Plans include prescription drug coverage, so members can’t add a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan with their existing coverage. However, if this is the case, I strongly encourage you to contact a plan specialist.
- Newly enrolled members to Medicare Advantage can change to another Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage) or choose Original Medicare (with or without drug coverage) within the first three months of having Medicare.
Now, let’s look at the limitations during OEP. Plan members are not permitted to:
- Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
- If a beneficiary has Original Medicare coverage, they cannot supplement that coverage with a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
- If a beneficiary with Original Medicare coverage, they cannot switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to a new plan.
The reinstated OEP provides Medicare Advantage Plan members more flexibility and period of time to make sure their plan is right for them.
Additionally, interested seniors can find out more about Senior Care Plus Medicare Advantage by visiting our website by calling us at 775-982-3112. Choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan and navigating the enrollment periods can be confusing and complicated, potential members are welcome to visit our office at 10315 Professional Circle, Reno, NV 89521. One of our customer service representatives will help guide potential members through the process, step-by-step.
CJ Bawden is Sales and Marketing Manager for Senior Care Plus, a Medicare Advantage Plan from Hometown Health. For more information please call 775-982-3112.