Recently, we tried to clear up some confusion regarding Obamacare Open Enrollment and Medicare Open Enrollment. This time, let’s go a step further to distinguish one from the other.
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP) takes place this year from Oct. 15-Dec. 7. Also called the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP), Open Enrollment is an excellent opportunity to evaluate your current Medicare coverage going into the new year.
If you are currently enrolled in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, with or without prescription drug coverage, during the OEP/AEP. You can also enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan (PDP).
If you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or a PDP, you can disenroll from your plan during Annual Election 2013 or switch to another Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan. Disenrolling from a Medicare Advantage plan without enrolling in another Medicare Advantage plan means you will be returning to Original Medicare.
These changes would be effective Jan. 1, 2014.
If your current coverage is Original Medicare, you also have the option of keeping your Original Medicare. You are not required to make any changes. Anyone choosing to remain with Original Medicare—or returning to Original Medicare after leaving Medicare Advantage—is strongly advised to enroll in a prescription drug plan and a Medicare supplement plan.
Medicare supplement plans are designed to fill the many gaps in Original Medicare. That is why they are often called Medigap plans.
Which brings us to the question …
Are Medicare supplement plans being offered in the healthcare exchange?
The answer is no. Obamacare Open Enrollment and the Health Insurance Marketplace or healthcare exchange have nothing to do with Medicare. A lot of people are confused because Obamacare Open enrollment—from Oct. 1, 2013, to Mar. 31, 2014—and Medicare Open Enrollment overlap, but they are not the same.
Medicare Open Enrollment is only for people on Medicare, and the health exchange is designed to help currently uninsured people find affordable health coverage. Because Medicare recipients are already insured, the health exchange is of no concern to them. Medicare supplement, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare prescription drug plans are not being offered in the healthcare exchange.
Remember, while Obamacare Open Enrollment will run well into next year, Medicare Open Enrollment continues only until Dec. 7—and may be your only chance for a full year to make the changes you want in your Medicare coverage. Don’t forget to make the most of your Oct. 15-Dec. 7 Medicare Open Enrollment opportunities!
If you have a further question about Medicare, enrollment periods, or the health exchange, leave your comment below!
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