They''ve done it again! Just when we think we know the rules they change them. Many Americans wait until after Christmas to decide on a Medicare plan. They like to talk to their friends during the holidays to see what they think about a particular plan or policy. You cannot do that this year. Many plans receive as much as a quarter of their applicants during the last three weeks of December. You will not have the last three weeks of December to decide your coverage this year.
This year you have a longer window of enrollment than the November 15 to December 31 stretch of last year. Open enrollment runs from October 15 to December 7 this year. Someone out there has no sense of history or ironic sense of humor. The health-care overhaul calls for an earlier deadline to ensure that all new coverage begins as planned on January 1.
You should receive an annual notice telling you about any changes in your coverage for next year by September 30. Insurers will begin to market their 2012 plans on October 1. The dates are bound to catch some seniors off guard. Be proactive! If you are interested in enrolling in an Advantage Plan for 2012 start comparing plans as soon as possible. If you are considering changing plans for the first time visit the Medicare.gov to search for plans in your area.
Do not take any coverage for granted. Just because something was covered this year by no means indicates that it will be covered next year. Plans change how they cover expenses from year to year. You may find that a prescription drug that was covered last year is not covered for the new year, or you may face a big bill for a costly treatments like chemotherapy. Any changes will be laid out in the annual notice you receive from your insurer. Read it carefully!
If you miss the deadline things can get complicated. The open enrollment period, which ran from January 1 through March 31, has been eliminated and is no longer available. So, if you fail to do due diligence, the plan you are on may still be offered for 2012, but the details of the plan may change. If the plan is discontinued you may be switched to another plan or dropped into regular Medicare, which does not provide prescription drug coverage. If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan and wish to make a change, your only opportunity will be between January 1 and February 14. But, you will only be allowed to dis-enroll and return to original Medicare. You may also purchase a stand-alone Part D plan and a Medicare supplement if you wish. But, you will not be allowed to jump into another Medicare Advantage Plan.
The goal of the new deadline is to prevent coverage problems arising from late December enrollment decisions. But it could be a real headache if you are not on top of your game! You can rest assured, however, that the expert staff at David C. Cloud and Associates is on top of the game for you! We will be glad to assist you with any questions concerning your Medicare options. Just click on the Contact Us link above, or call us to discuss your specific situation and questions. Tags: Untagged