If you missed the opportunity to disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan during the Oct. 15-Dec. 7 2013 Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP), you have another chance to do so during the current Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP), which began Jan. 1, 2014, and will continue until Feb. 14, 2014.
The annual MADP was introduced in 2011 in order to give enrollees in Medicare Advantage one more opportunity to fine tune their Medicare coverage from year to year. Normally, there are limited opportunities outside the annual Oct. 15-Dec. 7 Open Enrollment Period (a.k.a. Annual Election Period, or AEP) to disenroll from Medicare Advantage plans, and the annual MADP offers one more valuable opportunity to do so.
Regardless of whether you joined a new Medicare Advantage plan during the 2013 OEP/AEP or simply chose not to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan you were already enrolled in going into the Open Enrollment Period, you are able to disenroll from Medicare Advantage until Feb. 14.
Should I Really Consider Disenrolling from Medicare Advantage?
If your Medicare Advantage plan has changed its premiums or benefits for the current year, or if your medical situation has changed in recent weeks, you may decide that it is time for a change in your health coverage.
Regardless of why you may decide that a change is in order, you have the option of leaving your Medicare Advantage Plan until this year’s Disenrollment Period for Medicare Advantage comes to an end on Feb. 14.
During the Disenrollment Period for Medicare Advantage, you can:
- Return to Original Medicare
- Apply for a Medicare supplement
- Enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan
Be sure to note, however …
Disenrolling from your Medicare Advantage plan during the Jan.1-Feb. 14 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 would be well advised to look into Medicare supplement plans, since these are designed to help fill the many gaps in Original Medicare coverage.
You should always 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 Feb. 14. Perhaps most important, unless you’re prepared to be insured only by Original Medicare, you should not drop your Medicare Advantage plan until you’re certain you’ll be able to get a Medicare supplement policy to replace it.
Also, be Aware…
Unless you have Medigap guaranteed issue rights—which some states and insurance companies provide during certain periods following initial enrollment in Medicare—be aware that medical underwriting is likely to apply when you apply for a Medicare supplement plan. As a result, private insurance companies can 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 does not cover skilled nursing care, Medicare Part A hospital deductibles, Medicare Part B medical deductibles and excess, or medical costs incurred during foreign travel.
Your State Health Insurance Assistance Program can tell you whether medical underwriting will apply if you want to join a particular Medicare supplement plan during this year’s MADP. Be aware, however, that medical underwriting will apply to most people wishing to join a Medicare supplement plan during MADP.
Two Important Things to Remember about Prescription Drug Coverage and MADP
- During the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period, you can join a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan if you leave any Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare. Because Medicare supplements do not include drug coverage, enrolling in a highly affordable drug plan is an important moneysaving step to supplement your Medigap coverage.
- 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.
During the Jan. 1-Feb. 14 Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period, you may not:
- You may not switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan during MADP. MADP is a period for disenrolling from Medicare Advantage plans. Unless you qualify for special enrollment, your next opportunity to enroll in Medicare Advantage or switch Medicare Advantage plans will not likely come until the Oct. 15-Dec. 7 2014 Medicare Open Enrollment/Annual Election Period.
- You may not switch from one stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to another stand-alone drug plan during MADP.
- If you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan without prescription drug coverage, you may not leave your current drug plan if you decide to disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan.
What are some reasons to consider switching from Medicare Advantage to Medigap?
- While Medicare Advantage premiums are lower than Medigap premiums—and many Medicare Advantage plans are premium-free—some plans have hidden costs that you may only recently have become aware of. Medicare supplement plans, meanwhile, are known to be budget-friendly, making it easier to predict how much you will be paying and how much you will be saving.
- While Medicare Advantage plans are mainly network-based, Medigap is noted for flexibility. Supplement plans do not limit you to a network of providers. If you travel frequently, this is an important consideration.
Also note that, while medical underwriting may apply, you are able to join a Medicare supplement plan at any time of the year. This means anyone deciding to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan during the Jan. 1-Feb. 14 MADP and qualifying for a particular Medicare supplement plan can count on Medigap coverage immediately upon returning to Original Medicare.
Any changes made during the Jan. 1-Feb. 14 Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period normally take effect on the first day of the following month after change requests are received. Visit Medicare.gov for further information about the 2014 Disenrollment Period for Medicare Advantage.
Deciding whether to disenroll from Medicare Advantage during the current MADP may not be an easy decision in some cases. Millions of Americans are well served by their current Medicare Advantage plans, and may need some advice as to whether a switch to Medigap appears to be the best move. For help making an important decision, contact a licensed, bonded MedicareMall Medicare plans representative who can help ensure you’ll be getting the best possible coverage for 2014 at the best possible price.
Please leave a comment telling us about any changes you’ve decided to make during the 2014 MADP.
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