This Medicare Monday article will be going over the different Medicare Election Periods that are available. There are many Election Periods throughout the year that are available and many Medicare recipients are not even aware of them. This tends to leave quite a few extra benefits that are available on newer plans to be missed out. This is why it is always beneficial to have your Annual review, but this is not always an option for some, or there is just too much advertisement and phone calls that many just give up on doing a review. Which is why this article is being written.
With the Annual Enrollment Period behind us, we have been getting a few questions about what the Annual Enrollment Period is and what enrollment periods are available to Medicare beneficiaries. There are many Enrollment Periods throughout the year that allow Medicare beneficiaries to make changes to their plans. Which is why you should at least have an annual review of your plan options, even if it is not at the end of the year. In this article I would like to explain the two main enrollment periods of the year, that many do not fully understand even though they are talked about often.
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The primary Election Period each year is known as the “Annual Election Period” this is what runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. This is when you see all the annoying and misleading ads online, on TV, in your car, and everywhere else. The Annual Election Period allows any Medicare beneficiary to enroll into a Prescription Drug Plan or Medicare Advantage plan. Whether you have been on one of those types of plans and wanting to make a change for the new year or have never been on the plans before you are able to enroll during this period and get the plan effective January 1st of the following year. You can make as many choices as you like during this time, but the final plan signed for by December 7th is what will become effective January 1st.
So, during the Annual Election Period you can remove your Medicare Advantage Plan and go to original Medicare, change from one Medicare Advantage Plan to a different one, Go from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan, change from one Prescription Plan to another, cancel your Prescription Drug Plan, or get a Prescription Plan for the first time. If you make any of those changes, the final change or option you choose takes place January 1st.
The second Election Period I am discussing today, is the Open Enrollment Period. In particular, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. This election period runs from January 1 to March 31 each year. This election period is quite a bit different than the Annual Election Period because it is only for those that are on Medicare Advantage Plans.
If you are on a Medicare Advantage Plan, then the Open Enrollment Period is something to keep mind of because you can make a one-time change. In this election period those on a Medicare Advantage Plan have two options. You can either change to another Medicare Advantage Plan or drop Medicare Advantage.
There are several reasons that you may want to change to another Medicare Advantage Plan. You may have missed out during the Annual Election Period and didn’t get a chance to review the new options available and would like to ensure you are utilizing the new benefits available without having to wait. Your Medicare Advantage plan may not have specific coverages you are wanting or need in place and there is a plan available that does provide those coverages. No matter the reason you can look at other Medicare Advantage plans and transition to another Medicare Advantage plan.
Now, the other option I mentioned regarding this Election Period is dropping your Medicare Advantage plan all together and going back to Original Medicare. If this is something that you have decided you want to do, you are able to do so during this period. If you decide to drop Medicare Advantage for Original Medicare, you can decide to enroll in a stand-alone Drug plan at this time as well. I highly recommend doing so to avoid any Part D penalties down the line. If you are thinking about dropping a Medicare Advantage plan to go to Original Medicare, I would also recommend talking to a licensed Medicare Broker so that they can review your situation with you and ensure that you are getting the coverage you need and making an informed decision.
If any changes are made during the Open Enrollment Period, the change you make takes place the 1st of the following month. For example, if you decide to make a change and sign to do so in January, your change will take place February 1st.
If you didn't get a chance to review your Medicare plan during the Annual Enrollment Period it may not be too late.
There may be other Special Election Periods available throughout the year for you as well. There are several qualifying factors that may create a Special Election Period, which allow Medicare beneficiaries to make changes to their coverage. The following are a few reasons you may have a Special Election Period available for yourself.
These are just a handful of other Special Election Periods that are available throughout the year for Medicare beneficiaries. If any of them apply to you, feel free to reach out and we can discuss whether there is a Special Election Period available for you to use to get new benefits from your Medicare. While one of these examples may apply for you it does not mean you automatically qualify for a Special Election Period to make changes to your plan. You should always consult with your Local Medicare Agent before trying to make changes.
As always if you have any more questions regarding Election Periods and how they work you are more than welcome to reach out to our office and talk with one of your local Medicare Brokers. We have several offices throughout Colorado along with several independent agents in many States. If you haven’t had a chance to look at the new Medicare Advantage plans for 2022, now may be a great time to reach out and we can let you know what changes you can make.
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