Ikey Fowler

Ikey Fowler

In 2019 Medicare authorized the return of the Medicare Open Enrollment Period or OEP. Prior to 2019, anyone enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, with or without drug coverage, could disenroll from that plan and return to Original Medicare and a prescription drug plan. In the past, this disenrollment would have had to happen between January 1st and February 14th. The 21st Century Cures Act eliminated the above disenrollment period and replaced it with a new Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP). OEP will take place from January 1st through March 31st annually.

What does this mean for the Medicare beneficiary? OEP now allows individuals enrolled in a MA plan to make a one-time election to go to another MA plan or go to Original Medicare (with or without drug coverage). Any change made during the OEP would take place the first day of the month after the change is made.

When would a Medicare beneficiary want to consider a change? Not only can you change your MA plan during OEP, you can also change MA plan companies. For example, if you are enrolled in a MA plan with Company A and find out your provider no longer accepts your plan, you can change to a MA plan your provider accepts. Another reason may be that you have been prescribed a prescription drug that your current MA plan doesn’t cover, but another MA plan would. Or you may just have the desire to return to Original Medicare.

What changes are prohibited during OEP? There are two major changes that are prohibited during OEP. First, a person cannot change from Original Medicare to a MA plan. Second, a person cannot change from one Prescription Drug Plan to another Prescription Drug Plan. The only changes that can be made must begin with a person being enrolled in a MA plan.

Does this mean the hundreds of television commercials will stop running? Unfortunately, no. Although companies cannot market OEP specifically, the commercials will continue to run. Sorry!!

If you have questions regarding any aspect of Medicare or Medicare health plans feel free call us at Alabama Health Guidance (256-648-5710), stop by our office at 885 Florence Blvd (Four Lane Shopping Center) or email me at ikey@alabamahealthguidance.com

Alabama Health Guidance is an independent insurance agency and is not affiliated with Medicare or any other government agency.