Yeah, we know. Medicare Open Enrollment season came early this year. Very early and it was all too easy to miss it if you weren’t paying attention. In the past, seniors had all the way until December 31st to switch out their Medicare Advantage plans, but this year Medicare Open Enrollment, the annual period of time set aside for seniors have to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans, ended more than three weeks early.
Even worse, traditionally, Medicare Advantage enrollees also had the option to switch their plans during January, February and March of each year, but that “Open Enrollment” period is no longer available to you starting this year. If you have relied on the traditional enrollment period in January, February and March to review your Medicare Advantage options and change your plan, please know that that’s not an option anymore!
With Medicare Open Enrollment 2011 Over, Does This Mean That You’re Stuck For All of 2012?
Dropping Medicare Advantage
Even if you just signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan, you still have the option to go back to Original Medicare up until February 14th of 2012. You can drop your Medicare Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare by 1) making the request with your Medicare Advantage plan, 2) calling 1-800-MEDICARE, or 3) working with your local SHIP office.
If you do drop your Medicare Advantage plan to go back to Original Medicare the change will be effective the first day of the next month. For example, if you elect to change in January, the effective date will be Feb. 1; if you elect to change before Feb. 14, the effective date will be March 1.
If you are thinking of dropping your Medicare Advantage plan to go back to Original Medicare, you should think about signing up for a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan since Original Medicare does not cover prescription drugs. You have until February 14th to sign up for a Medicare Part D plan, and it needs to be done at the same time as you drop your Medicare Advantage.
5-Star Medicare Plans
Starting this year, seniors also have the option of switching to a 5-Star Medicare plan at any time in the year. 5-Star Medicare plans are plans which have gotten top marks in 36 quality performance measures, so if there is a 5-Star Medicare plan available to you, this could be a good option if you’re unhappy with your current Medicare Advantage plan. Unfortunately, this option is only available if there is a 5-Star Medicare plan in you area.
Medicare special needs plans are designed to provide more focused and specialized healthcare for people who require health benefits tailored to their specific needs and conditions. The plans are available to Medicare beneficiaries who have chronic, severe or disabling medical conditions and more importantly for folks who may have missed their usual shot at enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, enrollment runs year-round. Some of the chronic conditions currently approved for SNPs include chronic alcohol and other drug dependence, certain auto-immune disorders, cancer, certain cardiovascular disorders, chronic heart failure, dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Were you ready for Medicare Open Enrollment this year? Tell us about it!
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