Key Medicare Enrollment Improvements Start in January 2023, Thanks to the BENES Act

BENES Act - dice that say Medicare

Remember hearing about the BENES Act (Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification Act) that was finally signed into law in 2020? Well some of the key provisions that will make Medicare enrollment easier and faster are set to take effect in January 2023. They will bring welcome changes for people on Medicare.

This legislation includes provisions that will make Medicare enrollment easier and faster and help make the Medicare enrollment process easier for beneficiaries to understand. It also extends the timeframe for Medicare coverage for some beneficiaries eligible due to End-Stage Renal Disease.

What are the key provisions of the BENES Act?

The primary components include:

  • Elimination of seven-month waiting period beneficiaries have before getting their Medicare coverage after enrolling during the General Enrollment Period or in the later months of their Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). Beginning in 2023, Medicare coverage will begin the month after enrollment.
  • Adds a provision for Medicare to grant “Special Enrollment Periods” for “exceptional circumstances”, similar to the flexibilities Medicare Advantage and Part D plans already enjoy. This will help facilitate enrollments program-wide, and enhance beneficiary access and administrative consistency.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will identify ways to align Medicare’s annual enrollment periods to reduce confuse and for ease of enrollment. HHS must present their recommendations to Congress by January 2023.

How will the BENES Act Work?

As mentioned, the BENES Act will take effect in January 2023. Here’s a summary of how it will work.

  • When people sign up for Medicare Part A or Part B in the General Enrollment Period (January 1 – March 31 of each year), their coverage currently starts seven months later on July 1. Starting January 1, 2023, people who enroll in Medicare during this time will have their coverage effective the first of the following month.
  • When people sign up for Medicare Parts A, B and/or D in their 7-month Initial Enrollment Period (3 months before the month of eligibility and 3 months after), if they sign up during the month of eligibility or one of the 3 following months, their coverage will be effective the first day of the following month.
  • People who are granted a Special Enrollment Period to enroll in Medicare Part B, will have their coverage begin the first of the following month.

We will be updating our Medicare Fact Sheets this fall to reflect this information.

Karen Joy Fletcher

Our blogger Karen Joy Fletcher is CHA’s Communications Director. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she is the online “public face” of the organization, provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare and other health care issues. She is responsible for digital content creation, management of CHA’s editorial calendar, and managing all aspects of CHA’s social media presence. She loves being a “communicator” and enjoys networking and collaborating with the passionate people and agencies in the health advocacy field. See her current articles.