Each October, Medicare’s Open Enrollment kicks off and for seven weeks, Medicare recipients can make changes to their coverage. Now, just a month away, here are a few things you need to know about Medicare’s Open Enrollment period for 2014.
Medicare’s Open Enrollment
This year, the Fall Open Enrollment begins October 15 and runs until December 7. These dates are important because typically, it’s the only time of the year changes are allowed. If this is your first enrollment period, your coverage won’t begin until January 1. Usually, any changes made to existing policies also go into effect on January 1 of the following year.
You might have seen the acronym PDP. This is the new stand alone prescription drug plan. You also have the option of the traditional coverage, known as Original Medicare. Part D coverage – the prescription portion of Medicare – can be added as part of the Medicare Advantage.
Medicare Advantage and Medigap
If you already have Medicare Advantage, you have the option of switching to Original Medicare. Keep in mind, though, in order to secure drug coverage, you will have to choose a PDP or the Part D portion of Medicare. Medicap is another policy that’s applicable only with Original Medicare enrollments and even then, you options may be limited depending on where you live.
If you have Original Medicare, be sure to review the revisions in this year’s “Medicare & You” handbook that you’ve likely already received. It tells you what you need to know about various Medicare costs and benefits for the upcoming year.
For those with a Medicare Advantage plan or a stand-alone Part D plan, you’ve likely received, or will soon, an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and/or Evidence of Coverage (EOC). Be sure to carefully review these documents as this is where price changes, benefits and other rules will be noted. Anything you’re unhappy with, you can change during the open enrollment period.
Not to be Confused with Marketplace Open Enrollment
Here’s the big quagmire for 2014: Americans are still acclimating themselves to the new healthcare laws and as a result, there’s been some confusion between the Fall Open Enrollment Period and Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplaces. These are two different animals, so to speak. The Health Insurance Marketplaces begin October 1, but these are for Americans who are underinsured or who are uninsured. Last year was the first year for the Health Insurance Marketplace and there was considerable confusion. The new healthcare laws aren’t applicable to anything associated with Medicare from the enrollment perspective. People with Medicare should not use this open enrollment period to purchase or change their health care. Just like always, the Fall Open Enrollment Period is where Medicare recipients will review and make changes to their health coverage.
As always, our estate planning lawyers stand ready to help. Whether you’ve been denied or are unsure of what these new rules and laws mean, we’ve planned for the Medicaid and Medicare changes and how they affect you.