Even if you’re retired, you live in a busy world, so this may be a good time for a reminder about the current Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period.
The 2014 Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period began on January 1 and will continue until February 14.
Regardless of any healthcare changes you decided, or declined, to make during last fall’s Medicare Open Enrollment/Annual Election Period, the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period provides important options to anyone currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan but wishing to disenroll from Medicare Advantage.
Why Would I Consider Disenrolling from Medicare Advantage?
Maybe your Medicare Advantage plan has changed its premiums or benefits for the current year, and you’re only now realizing you want to get out. Or perhaps your medical situation has changed in recent weeks and your Medicare Advantage plan isn’t offering some of the benefits you need now.
Whatever your reason for wanting to disenroll from Medicare Advantage, you have the option of doing so until this year’s Disenrollment Period for Medicare Advantage comes to an end on February 14.
During the Disenrollment Period for Medicare Advantage, you can:
- Return to Original Medicare
- Apply for a Medicare supplement
- Enroll in a stand-alone Part D plan
You should note that disenrolling from your Medicare Advantage plan during the Disenrollment Period for Medicare Advantage does not give you the option of enrolling in another Medicare Advantage plan.
If you decide to disenroll from your current Medicare Advantage plan, you need to be prepared to return to Original Medicare. If you choose Original Medicare over Medicare Advantage, you’d be well advised to look into Medicare supplement plans, since these are designed to help fill the many gaps in Original Medicare coverage.
If you’re thinking about dropping your Medicare Advantage plan during this year’s Disenrollment Period for Medicare Advantage, you’re well advised to look at Medicare supplement options before disenrolling from your current plan. The best way to start is by getting a free Medicare supplement insurance quote and becoming familiar with all your Medigap options. Call MedicareMall toll-free at (877) 413-1556 to discuss the best and most cost-efficient Medicare supplement options available to you.
If you decide to drop your Medicare Advantage plan and apply for a Medicare supplement, you should do so early enough to learn whether your application is accepted prior to February 14th. Perhaps most important, unless you’re prepared to be insured only by Original Medicare, you shouldn’t drop your Medicare Advantage plan until you’re certain you’ll be able to get a Medicare supplement policy to replace it.
You should also be aware that if you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage (MA-PD), you will automatically be disenrolled from your Medicare Advantage plan if you enroll in a stand-alone Part D plan. If you are disenrolled from your Medicare Advantage plan in this manner without any intention on your part, you will probably be unable to enroll in another Medicare Advantage plan until the next Medicare Open Enrollment Period.
If you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan without prescription drug coverage, you have every right to drop your Medicare Advantage plan during the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period, return to Original Medicare, and enroll in a stand-alone prescription drug plan.
If you’re even vaguely thinking about disenrolling from your Medicare Advantage plan, you shouldn’t delay weighing the pros and cons of doing so and investigating every available alternative. Unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period during the coming months, your next opportunity to drop your current Medicare Advantage plan won’t occur until the Annual Election period that gets underway in October of this year.
As a result, decisions you make during the current Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period are decisions you should be prepared to live with until January 1 of next year, when any changes you choose to make during the Medicare Annual Election Period take effect.
Even if you’re not 100% satisfied with your current Medicare Advantage plan, don’t forget that the current Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period doesn’t give you the option of switching Medicare Advantage plans. Annual Election between October and December, however, does give you the option of switching Medicare Advantage plans.
If you’re currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan lacking some of the coverage you’d like, but intend to enroll in a different Medicare Advantage plan more suited to your long-term needs, you may consider remaining in your current plan until the end of this year rather than making a temporary switch back to Original Medicare.
Don’t forget. The 2014 Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period will begin on January 1 and will continue until February 14.
It bears repeating …
If you’re planning to disenroll from your current Medicare Advantage plan in order to return to Original Medicare, you should make sure you qualify for the Medicare supplement plan you want before dropping your Medicare Advantage plan. Unless you have Medigap guaranteed issue rights, you’d better play it safe.
If you’re thinking about taking a gamble by dropping your Medicare Advantage plan first and simply crossing your fingers and hoping to qualify for the Medicare supplement plan of your choice … think again. If, like most Americans, you became eligible for Medicare at age 65, you were legally able to enroll in any Medigap plan sold in your area during your Medicare initial enrollment period.
You’re unlikely to have that same opportunity now. Now, private insurance companies may shut you out of certain Medicare supplement plans if they think you’re too great a risk. Although they’re required to make Medigap Plan A available to you, they may choose not to sell you certain other plans.
Medigap Plan A offers the basic services standardized by Medicare, but doesn’t cover skilled nursing care, Medicare Part A hospital deductibles, Medicare Part B medical deductibles and excess, or medical costs incurred during foreign travel.
Medigap Plan F, meanwhile, is a much more comprehensive plan designed to cover all the high-risk gaps left by Original Medicare. Plan F offers such wide-ranging coverage that out-of-pocket expenses are a rarity for many Plan F policyholders.
If you have your sights set on one of the more comprehensive Medicare supplement plans, play it safe and get approved before disenrolling from your Medicare Advantage plan. Make sure—don’t assume—the coverage you can get is better for you than the coverage you’ll give up.
There are plenty of options to consider during the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period if you’re not completely satisfied with your current Medicare Advantage Plan. With Feb. 14 just around the corner, though, you have to act soon—and, even without a lot of time left, you need to make your healthcare decisions wisely. If you have questions about senior healthcare including Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B), Medicare supplement plans, or Medicare Advantage, contact a licensed, bonded MedicareMall representative who’ll be happy to lead you with confidence through the Medicare maze!
Which have you decided is better for you this year—Medicare Advantage or Medigap? Please leave a comment below!
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