Time-Limited Equitable Relief for Part B Penalties Extended 1 More Year

Time-Limited Equitable Relief for Part B Penalties Extended 1 More Year

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) extended their time-limited equitable relief from Medicare Part B penalties for one more year. It is now set to expire September 30, 2019.

Eligible beneficiaries include people who are in Marketplace plans and missed signing up for Medicare Part B during their Special Enrollment Period following the loss of their or their spouse’s employer covered health insurance, and people who had Medicare Part A and a Marketplace plan and delayed enrolling in Part B. In both cases, these eligible beneficiaries most likely missed or delayed their Part B enrollment without knowing the costly consequences of later enrolling in Part B and incurring a lifetime late enrollment penalty.

This has been an easy mistake to make, as little to no information is given to people 65 and older who are currently covered by an employer health plan, or to people approaching 65 who have their own insurance in the Marketplace about the consequences of delaying Part B enrollment. Then, when later enrolling into Medicare Part B, these people have found themselves with a substantial late enrollment penalty and gaps in coverage.

Last September, CMS extended the timeframe to apply for equitable relief for an additional year, and this year they did the same, extending it till September 30, 2019. The equitable relief is in the form of a waiver for Part B late enrollment penalties and a Special Enrollment Period to sign up for Part B.

For details on who can apply and how to apply, see our earlier article, CMS Expands Eligibility for Time-Limited Equitable Relief From Part B Penalties.

Also, for more information on why this extension of equitable relief is so important and the kind of issues that CMS must remedy in its outreach and education to prevent serious enrollment errors, see our earlier advocacy letter: CHA & Advocates Nationwide Push for Extended Equitable Relief.

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.