Open Enrollment Ends on Dec 7 But Some Beneficiaries Have More Time

Open Enrollment Ends on Dec 7 But Some Beneficiaries Have More Time

Medicare’s Open Enrollment, also referred to as the Annual Election Period (AEP), ends in on Wednesday Dec 7. The AEP allows Medicare beneficiaries to join, switch or disenroll from a Medicare Advantage (MA) or Part D plan.  Some beneficiaries have more time to make choices.

Beneficiaries who are in an MA or Part D plan that is not renewing next year have until Feb 29, 2012.  “Almost 151,000 beneficiaries in California are in Medicare Advantage plans that are not renewing for 2012,” observed Elaine Wong Eakin, Executive Director of California Health Advocates.  “In addition, there are beneficiaries in Part D plans that are not renewing.  All these beneficiaries get a Special Election Period (SEP) from Dec 8, 2011 to Feb 29, 2012 to join another plan.”

If your MA or Part D plan is not renewing and you use your SEP to join another plan, your new plan will be effective the first day of the next month.  (See table below for effective date depending on when change is made.)

Dec 8, 2011                 Special Election Period         Feb 29, 2012
Change made between Dec 8 and 31 Jan 1 and 31 Feb 1 and Feb 29
Effective date of change Jan 1 Feb 1 Mar 1

 

Even if you made a change during the AEP, you can make another change using your SEP.

But, if you do not make any change before December 31, 2011, what happens Jan 1, 2012?

  • If you are in an MA plan with prescription drug coverage and it is not renewing, Original Medicare automatically becomes your medical coverage and you will have no drug coverage effective January 1, 2012 unless you qualify for Extra Help. (If you have Extra Help, Medicare will automatically enroll you into a Part D plan.)
  • If you are in a Part D plan that is not renewing, you will have no prescription drug effective January 1, 2012 unless you qualify for Extra Help. (If you have Extra Help, Medicare will automatically enroll you into a Part D plan.)
  • If you are in an MA plan that is not renewing and the MA plan has no prescription drug coverage, Original Medicare automatically becomes your medical coverage effective January 1, 2012.

After December 31, 2011, beneficiaries who have not made use of their SEP can still enroll in a stand-alone Part D plan or MA plan. The SEP ends February 29, 2012 or when they make a change, whichever is earlier.

Beneficiaries in non-renewing MA plans also have a guaranteed issue period to buy a Medigap.  The guaranteed issue period started when you first received the notice that your MA plan was not renewing, and ends 123 days after your Medicare Advantage plan ends (May 2, 2012).

Resources:

  • See the list below for Part D plans in California that are not renewing for 2012.  The two MA plans available statewide that are not renewing are Freedom Blue Plan I and Freedom Blue Classic (both sponsored by Anthem Blue Cross.)  Other MA plans that are not renewing are county-specific.
Plan name Contract-Plan ID Premium
  1. Sterling Rx
S4802-067 $51.10
  1. CIGNA Medicare Rx Plan Two
S5617-202 $71.40
  1. Advantage Star Plan by RxAmerica
S5644-084 $28.10
  1. Aetna Medicare Rx Costco Plus Plan
S5810-236 $60.80
  1. Envision Rx Plus Gold
S7694-066 $91.40

 

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.