There is a new (as of 2019) Medicare Advantage open enrollment period that many seniors might not have heard about. It's the MA-OEP, which gives those Medicare beneficiaries currently on a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan a one-time change during the first 3 months of the year. There are some plan types (like an MSA plan) that don't qualify, but most MA plans do qualify for this one-time change. You haven't heard much about it because Medicare prohibits any type of direct marketing to Medicare beneficiaries that mention the MA-OEP and that's a good thing. Too much chaos during the regular annual enrollment period (AEP) already creates confusion among beneficiaries; we don't need to extend that an additional 3 months. MA enrollees have until March 31st to choose a new plan if they want.
Why the changes? It’s simple really. It gives more choice to Medicare beneficiaries that might have chosen an incorrect plan (for them) or those beneficiaries whose doctor(s) may have left the network AFTER they chose their new plan. Another reason was members didn’t always pay attention to their Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) letter, and their doctor co-pays went up or they found out a prescription was no longer covered. When this happened prior to 2019, Medicare beneficiaries were “locked-in” to their plan for the entire year and trying to move was virtually impossible. Their choice was finding a new doctor or taking a different drug. With the MA-OEP, that changed. Beneficiaries can now keep their doctor and choose a new plan that actually fits their needs.
The other option for MA enrollees during the MA-OEP is to enroll into a different stand-alone Part D plan. This was previously called the MADP and ran from January 1st through February 14th of every year. This will automatically dis-enroll them from their current Medicare Advantage plan and enroll them back into original Medicare. This can be very costly since original Medicare has no Maximum out of pocket. Medicare beneficiaries may be able to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan at that time as well but enrollment in a Medicare supplement plan is NOT guaranteed! Unless your state has guaranteed issue rights or you are within the first 6 months of your Part B effective date, you must pass underwriting requirements and carriers CAN REFUSE your application.
If you are currently enrolled in a stand-alone part D plan and original Medicare (with or without a supplement plan), you cannot take advantage of the MA-OEP.
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