Thursday, February 2, 2012

Enrollment Period Ends for Medicare Beneficiaries Whose Plan Left the Area

Each year Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans or PDP's make changes to their prograls. These changes must be approved by CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services). If the changes are not approved, or if the company determines that a certain plan they offer is not profitable, they will discontinue offering the plan for the next year. When this happens, the company offering the plan must send a notice to all members currently enrolled into the plan to notify them that they will not be able to continue with their current plan for the next year.

What Do You Do Now?

If you receive one of these notices be sure not to panic! I know change is difficult, but sometimes it actually can be a blessing in disguise! First of all, you will have plenty of time to make changes to your Medicare coverage. Secondly, you are always protected under the Medicare system. These protections include special allowances to enable you to change to other Medicare coverage. You are even granted an SEP which allows you to be able to sign up for a Medicare supplement without having to answer health questions! So, if your health has decreased, or if you just want the added protection of the Medicare supplement you are now able to join!

How Much Time Do I Have?

February marks the end of the Enrollment Period granted by CMS for those Medicare Beneficiaries who lost their coverage due to their plan leaving the area. CMS will send out a notice saying they are granting the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for individuals affected by Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D plan (PDP) non-renewals (NRs) or service area reductions (SARs) to the end of February. In the past, you were only given until the end of January to make the necessary changes to your coverage. These notices are usually sent out prior to November giving you more than four months to find a suitable replacement for your current coverage.

Don't confuse this Special Enrollment Period (SEP) with the Annual Disenrollment Period (ADP)! The ADP runs from January 1st until February 14th, and only allows you to drop your current Medicare Advantage plan and pick up a PDP. This enrollment period is for all Medicare beneficiaries and is not an SEP. For more information on this election period visit my blog post about the Annual Disenrollment Period.