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Understanding the 2020 Policy Changes to Medicare

by Jagger Esch

The beginning of a new decade is upon us, and significant changes are happening. Understanding the 2020 Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period could bring you great benefit.

The enrollment period provides an extra opportunity for you to get the best coverage. Medicare is full of many parts, and it may be challenging to keep up with all the new rules.

Different enrollment periods have varying guidelines. Regulations include specific dates.

Beneficiaries can forget about the old Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period. The new and improved Medicare Open Enrollment Period is the replacement.

The last time to enroll, according to federal law, allows you a final chance to switch Advantage plans. Yet, you must be a Medicare Advantage enrollee to use this option.

Understanding the 2020 Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

The new chance to switch Medicare Advantage plans is happening right now in 2020. It starts January 1 and runs until March 31.

Beneficiaries with an Advantage plan may now use this time to switch. Another option is to drop a current Advantage policy and go back to Medicare and buy Part D.

In 2010, the ACA law put an end to the Medicare OEP. Replacing the OEP was the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period. The dis-enrollment period began on January 1 and only ran until February 14.

So, what makes this period different? Well, this period only allowed beneficiaries to return to Medicare. The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period allows a one-time switch between Advantage plans.

What is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

The Open Enrollment Period allows you to switch from one Advantage plan to another. Although, you may not use this period to switch from one Part D drug plan to another.

Think of this as your chance to make any last-minute policy shifts.

Life happens at the most inconvenient times, Medicare understands. As of 2019, Advantage plan enrollees may make policy changes until the end of March.

New policies or any adjustments begin the 1st of the following month. Let’s say Katherine has a Medicare Advantage policy. She realizes her benefits don’t cover the care she needs in the upcoming months.

It’s February 1, so Katherine decides to find a more accommodating plan. She must wait until March 1 for her plan to start.

When to use the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

One big question is why beneficiaries would make another change? The reasons vary, but a common issue is that most people don’t understand how Advantage plans work.

Often Medicare enrollees attempt to make changes on their own without the help of an agent. There are many factors to consider when choosing an Advantage plan or a drug plan.

When deciding what option is best for you, it’s easy to overlook essential elements. That’s why working with an expert is beneficial; they make sure you don’t miss anything.

Unfortunately, beneficiaries forget to check the plan’s provider network before switching. Using an out-of-network doctor means paying out-of-pocket for services.

Recipients see the low premium cost and miss all the other costs associated with the plan. Yet, most programs have copayments and other expenses.

Medicare Enrollment Periods – The Breakdown

Learning the ins and outs of Medicare can be confusing, to say the least. One thing that seems to confuse many is the different Medicare enrollment periods.

The various election periods happen during certain times of the year. Election periods allow beneficiaries to make changes to their current coverage. Understanding each election period is essential for all.

The Annual Election Period

From October 15 through December 7 each year is the Medicare Annual Election Period. The AEP is the most common time for beneficiaries to change their Medicare Advantage or Part D plans.

Changes made during this time take effect on January 1. The Annual Election Period is for making changes to Medicare Advantage or Part D plans.

Each year, beneficiaries receive a Notice of Change letter in September. After reviewing this letter, you may decide you don’t like the upcoming changes. Use the AEP to switch to more comprehensive coverage.

The Special Election Period

Trying a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time can be nerve-wracking. You have twelve months to change back to Medicare if you try an Advantage plan for the first time.

During your first 12 months on the plan, you can switch without underwriting using the SEP. Advantage plans aren’t for everyone. The coverage may not meet your expectations or healthcare needs.

In such cases, the Special Election Period exists as a chance to go back to Medicare coverage. Beneficiaries may only use the Special Enrollment Period once in their lifetime.

Many circumstances qualify a person for a SEP. Moving out of state is a good reason, which means finding coverage in a new area. Beneficiaries may use a Special Enrollment Period to find a plan in the new service area.

Any major change can open the door for a SEP. If you get married, divorced, or are planning to move, expect eligibility for a plan change.

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is different than the fall AEP. Often the Annual Election Period is mistaken for the Open Enrollment Period.

The Advantage OEP is from January 1 – March 31 for Medicare Advantage or Part D enrollees. During this time, you have options for policy changes.

Although, this period doesn’t guarantee a pass into a Supplement. Choosing to enroll in a Supplement to go with your Medicare may save on costs of care.

First, you must apply and answer any health questions. Following your request, Medigap companies underwrite your application to determine your health risk.

Companies may deny coverage based on your health. When this happens, you may have Medicare coverage without Supplement insurance.

Changes in plan benefits or coverage take effect on the 1st day of the month following the request. So, if you have any changes to make, be sure to get the ball rolling.

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