Medicare can be very beneficial to you, but not if you’re stuck in a plan you don’t like. Medicare Advantage plans can be very confusing if you don’t fully understand what it entails. The summary of benefits within a plan specifically outlines how a plan works, but individuals can easily misunderstand the rules or forget to verify if a certain doctor is in the network.
Starting in 2019, individuals who were already enrolled in Medicare Advantage could make a one-time change during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP).
Medicare Advantage OEP is not a new concept, and it used to be a regular occurrence before the ACA (Affordable Care Act) legislation discontinued it.
When the ACA law was signed in 2010, it ended Medicare OEP and replaced it with Medicare Advantage Disenrollment. This ran from January 1 to February 14 every year. This policy was different from the current Medicare Advantage OEP due to individuals only being able to disenroll in Medicare Advantage and go back to Original Medicare. Unlike current OEP, individuals could not change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
There are two different types of enrollment periods: AEP and OEP. AEP is an annual open enrollment period that allows someone to add, change or drop their Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan coverage for the next year. OEP is an open enrollment period that allows individuals to make a one-time change to their current plan.
Medicare Advantage plan
Medicare Advantage OEP allows individuals who are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan to make a one-time change to another Medicare Advantage plan.
Between January 1 and March 31, individuals can:
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan (with or without drug coverage) to another Medicare Advantage plan (with or without drug coverage).
- Drop your current Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare.
During the OEP, individuals cannot:
- Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.
- Join a Medicare drug plan if you’re currently in Original Medicare.
- Switch from a Medicare drug plan to another if you’re in Original Medicare.
Why did OEP return?
The Open Enrollment Period allows individuals to make changes to their Medicare plans with the help of experienced agents. Oftentimes, individuals in Medicare would try and make their own plan changes without the help of an expert and overlook important factors. They may add a plan that their family doctor doesn’t participate in, which would no longer allow their doctor to see them. If they are currently taking a daily medication, they may change to a plan that doesn’t support the cost of the prescription and will need to use something else — if that’s an option.
Medicare plans can be very confusing, so it’s best to have an experienced agent walk through the plan with you. Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment was brought back in order to help eliminate some of those confusions and help individuals get into plans that are going to be beneficial to them.
Who is eligible for Medicare Open Enrollment?
When you first become eligible for Medicare, you will be in a seven-month initial enrollment period where you can sign up for Part A and/or Part B. When you turn 65, if you’re eligible for Medicare, you can sign up during the seven-month period that:
- Begins three months before you turn 65.
- Includes the month you turn 65.
- Ends three months after you turn 65.
If you don’t sign up for Medicare Part B when you first become eligible, you’ll have to pay a late penalty. The penalty is paid for as long as you have Part B and could potentially have a gap in your coverage.
Medicare can be extremely confusing and there are a lot of moving parts involved. When it comes to your health, let the experts guide you along the path. Our staff has over 120 years of combined experience and that allows us to understand the plans we offer and find the best one suited for your situation.
If you’re ready to make the move into Medicare or you have any questions about your current plan, give us a call and we’ll connect you with one of our top-notch agents!