The Medicare Advantage Enrollment Period runs from January 1st - March 31st.
If your client is unhappy with their current Medicare Advantage plan, they can make a switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage). They can also dis-enroll from their Medicare Advantage Plan and return to original Medicare. If they choose to do so, they'll be able to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan as well (Part D).
If they enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan during their Initial Enrollment Period, they can change to another Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage) or go back to Original Medicare (with or without drug coverage) within the first three months they have Medicare.
If your client switches to a different Medicare Advantage Plan or goes back to original Medicare with or without a drug plan, their new coverage will start the first day of the month after their new plan gets the request for coverage. An important detail to remember though, if your client decides to go back to original Medicare, they may not be able to buy a Medicare Supplement policy.
The best time for your client to get a Medicare Supplement policy is during their six month Medigap Open Enrollment Period. During that time they can purchase any Medicare Supplement policy sold in their state, even if they have health problems. This period starts the first month they have enrolled in Medicare Part B and they're age 65 or older.
There are many details to consider, before jumping off their current coverage. However, there are options if their current plan is not a good fit.
Every year between October 15th and December 7th Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to make changes to their existing policies and change their benefits with regard to Medicare Supplement plans, Medicare Advantage plans and Prescription Drug plans. It can be an overwhelming time for seniors as they sift through all the literature that has been mailed to them, and all the plans they've been researching online.
Your clients should have received their 'Annual Notice of Change' from their insurance company. This notice will list any changes in their policy, such as possible increase in costs or coverage. The notice should compare the benefits they currently have and what they will be in 2020. Their prescription drug plans should also be reviewed at this time of year to ensure that their medications will still be covered.
As their insurance agent, you can assist them with making the best decision regarding their policies for the next year or even longer. We've laid out everything your clients can do during this enrollment period below.
So what exactly can your clients do?
There are so many options for your clients, and it can be a daunting process to assist them with their choices, but utilizing our tools and resources will help make the process smoother. Some of these tools include using our rate and underwriting tool which will allow you to cost compare Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage plans for them. If you don't have access to our Resource for Rates tool, you can request access and receive a 30 day trial. Our contracted agents always have full access to this tool. It's also available as an app in the App Store and on Google Play. Use your login credentials for the desktop version to access quotes on the go.
Reviewing our new Medicare & Part D Plan Finder guide will help you if you're not AHIP certified and selling prescription drug plans to your clients. It's a step-by-step guide to the newly launched site on Medicare.gov. The new plan finder has a much simpler, and user-friendly interface; however, it does encourage Medicare beneficiaries to create a My Medicare account and to login with their credentials so they can save their prescriptions. It is not necessary to have them create an account if they do not wish to; you'll still be able to assist them with their drug choices.
In some cases, your clients may already have the best plans, and they won't need to do a thing. However, this is your opportunity to review their policies and determine if they'd be better off with another plan. It also provides the opportunity to open up the discussion about other types of insurance they may need.
Medicare Open Enrollment vs Guaranteed Issue Rights
Medicare Supplements (Medigap policies) have two different types of enrollment periods that don’t require you to answer health (medical) questions. These different periods of time are called a few different names which can be obscure. Here is a break down to better understand the different terms and their specific rules.
Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Open Enrollment
This period is considered your “initial enrollment period”. Thus the reason it is called your “initial enrollment period” is that many confuse the Medigap Open Enrollment period with the Medicare Open Enrollment period. Medicare Open Enrollment permits someone to change their Medicare Drug or Medicare Advantage plan each year, whereas Medigap’s Open Enrollment normally only allows you ONE guaranteed enrollment period, regardless of preexisting conditions.This period lasts six months and begins the first day of the month in which you are 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B. So if you turn 65 on April 3 but don’t join Medicare B until May 25, your Medigap Open Enrollment Period will start on June 1, which is the first day of the month in which you are both 65 and enrolled in Part B. (Some States such as CA, have a 30 day Medigap Birthday rule that allows you to switch Medigap plans to an equal or lesser value than your current Medigap plan during your birth month-without answering health questions).
Medigap Guaranteed Issue Rights
The chart below describes the situations, under federal law, that give you a right to buy a policy, the kind of policy you can buy, and when you can or must apply for it. States may provide additional Medigap guaranteed issue rights.
Source: 2017 Choosing A Medigap Policy
Carolyn Portanova is the Director of Marketing at The Brokerage Resource and has been with the firm since 2012.