Medicare has a new open enrollment period. Starting in 2019, the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period will run between January 1 and March 31. This is a big change for both Medicare insurance agents and Medicare enrollees.
How It’s Different
The new Medicare Advantage open enrollment period is replacing the Medicare Advantage disenrollment period. The change is part of the 21st Century Cures Act.
In previous years, the Medicare disenrollment period ran between January 1 and February 14. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare Advantage were allowed to switch to Original Medicare.
The new Medicare Advantage open enrollment period will allow people enrolled in Medicare Advantage to switch to Original Medicare or to switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
This new period is different in two key ways:
- Enrollees have more options. They can now switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
- Enrollees have more time. The new Medicare Advantage open enrollment period lasts for a full three months.
The Regular Annual Open Enrollment Period Hasn’t Changed (AEP)
The new Medicare Advantage open enrollment period replaces the Medicare Advantage disenrollment period. It does not impact the regular open enrollment period. This period will still occur between October 15 and December 7, as usual.
During this time, Medicare enrollees can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or vice versa. They can also switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
This Is a New Opportunity
Medicare Advantage plans can change from year to year. Although enrollees receive a Notice of Change, they might not take action for several reasons.
- They might miss the letter and not learn about the changes as a result.
- They might get busy during open enrollment and run out of time to change plans.
- They might not realize how much the changes will impact them.
The new Medicare Advantage enrollment period gives enrollees another chance to switch to another plan that is better suited for them – without having to switch to Original Medicare.
This is also a good opportunity for people who have enrolled in a new Medicare Advantage plan and decide they don’t like it as much as they expected to.
Medicare Advantage enrollees will have a full three months to decide whether or not they want to change their plan. This is a one-time election opportunity.
Look for additional guidance in the coming months on how we can appropriately market or advise clients about this opportunity. There may be strict guidelines to prevent brokers from targeting plan changes.