| Mon, Sep 26, 2011 @ 09:00 AM

What Happens If I Miss the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

It’s a good idea to carefully consider your medical needs and then compare the plans that may meet those needs. In 2011, the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) starts four weeks earlier than in past years. It runs from October 15 through December 7. That’s seven weeks, which may seem like a lot of time, but it’s a good idea to prepare beforehand by considering your health care needs and comparing plans that may meet those needs. If you get started now, you can be ready to take action when AEP begins.

During AEP you can join, switch or drop Medicare Advantage plans:

•    Join – You’re already enrolled in Original Medicare and wish to add a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or switch to a Medicare Advantage plan.

•    Switch – You’re already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or a Part D prescription drug plan, and you want to switch to a different Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan.

•    Drop – You’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and you want to drop it and return to Original Medicare.

If You Miss AEP

The Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP) runs from January 1 to February 14 each year, but there are only certain changes you can make during this period. During MAPD:

•    You can return to using Original Medicare and drop your Medicare Advantage plan.

•    You can add a standalone Part D prescription drug plan to Original Medicare.

If the Medicare Advantage plan you drop did not include drug coverage (MA-only plan), then you are granted a Special Enrollment Period and you can sign up for a prescription drug plan any time during MADP without penalty for late enrollment. You must also disenroll from your MA-only plan. If your Medicare Advantage plan did include drug coverage (MA-PD plan), then you will be automatically disenrolled from that plan when you sign up for a standalone prescription drug plan.

Changes you make during MADP go into effect the first day of the month after your request is received. Remember that MAPD is different from AEP. During MAPD you:

•    Can’t switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.

•    Can’t switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.

•    Can’t switch from one Part D prescription drug plan to another.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are some changes that just can’t be planned for, and Medicare has made allowances for certain situations. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan and lose your coverage or move into or out of an insurance plan coverage area, you may be able to make changes during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). Each SEP has its own rules governing when you can make changes and what changes you can make. For more information about Special Enrollment Periods, call 1-800-MEDICARE, TTY 1-877-486-2048 , 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For more information contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. You can also contact UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Made Clear to learn more at 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

Resources:

Switching Plans – MedicareMadeClear.com
Understanding Medicare Enrollment Periods – Medicare.gov
Medicare & You 2011 – Medicare.gov

Y0066_110822_144144 File & Use 09202011