Medicare Open Enrollment Is Back!
Medicare Open Enrollment Period OEP returns in 2019 after an 8 year hiatus due to Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations put in place in 2010. During the past 8 years it was replaced with what the ACA called the Medicare Dis-enrollment Period (MDP) which ran from January 1 until February 15. During the MDP you could only return to Original Medicare from a Medicare Advantage plan. The return of the OEP, however, gives you more options and twice as long to complete them.
What is the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP)?
** Medicare OEP starts on January 1 and ends on March 31 every year starting in 2019. **
Here is what you are allowed to do during the Medicare OEP:
Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare Parts A and B
If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan either with Part D (called a MAPD plan) or without Part D (called a MA plan) prescription drug benefits then you can drop that MA or MAPD plan and return to just having Original Medicare Parts A and B. You can also pick up a separate stand-alone Medicare Part D plan when doing this–but only if you already have a Medicare Advantage plan and are returning to Original Medicare. You can not pick up a Part D plan during OEP if you don’t already have it nor can you switch from one Part D plan to a new Part D plan during OEP (that is done during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).
If you decide to return to Original Medicare from a MAPD or MA plan then you can (and should) also apply for a Medicare Supplement insurance plan during this time. Be aware though that Medicare Supplement insurance carriers are not required to accept you during OEP so they can require you to medically qualify for coverage absent another enrollment qualification such as turning 65 or some other Special Enrollment Period.
Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan
If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan either with or without Part D prescription drug coverage then you are allowed a one-time switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan (either MAPD or MA+stand-alone Part D) during the OEP.
Why the OEP is good for RVers
Many RVers get into a Medicare Advantage plan and later realize that they have lost their freedom to see their own doctors when doing so. Most MA and MAPD plans have a network that you are required to use in order to receive benefits from the plan. Travelers can have a hard time finding doctors, especially since many of these MA/MAPD plans are HMOs and have very localized networks. So the OEP is your opportunity to make a correction and either return to Original Medicare A and B (and apply for a Medicare Supplement plan) or pick up a Medicare Advantage plan that allows you to see any doctor or hospital in the country.
What plan do we recommend for RVers?
Option 1: For RVers traveling outside of their home state frequently we recommend having Original Medicare A+B plus a Medicare Supplement insurance plan. This combination of coverage gives the best benefits and complete freedom to choose your own doctors.
Option 2 (NEW for 2019): There is only one Medicare Advantage plan that lets you choose your own doctors and that is a Medicare Medical Savings Account plan (click here to view the details of this Medicare Medical Savings Account MSA plan). Every other MA and MAPD plan in the country will require the use of certain doctors or network of doctors to access care. A Medicare MSA plan is the only alternative to Original Medicare + Medicare Supplement that gives the exact same freedom. Until now there has not been an insurance carrier that offered a broadly available MSA plan. We think this is a great ZERO COST alternative to Medicare Supplement insurance worth having a look at.
What is the difference between the Medicare OEP and the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)?
**Medicare Annual Enrollment Period runs from October 15 and ends on December 7 each year **
This is where the confusion comes in for many people–marketing commercials and other advertisements (as well as uninformed insurance agents and brokers) erroneously refer to the Medicare AEP as “Medicare Open Enrollment”. On top of that, during the same time as Medicare AEP, which runs from October 15 to December 7, there is the Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment that usually runs from November 1 to December 15.
During the Medicare AEP you can do everything you can do in Medicare OEP, but in addition to that you can also:
- Enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan from Original Medicare
- Change Medicare Part D plans or enroll in a Part D plan
Why the Medicare OEP is a good thing!
The reason the OEP is returning is the same reason we had it in the first place: to give Medicare enrollees an opportunity to get out of a Medicare Advantage they would otherwise be locked into for the entire calendar year. Many people are confused about their Medicare Advantage plan’s benefits and end up enrolling in a plan during AEP that they do not like (or discover they can’t even use). This can be particularly true for RVers who enroll in a plan and then realize that it does not provide the benefits they need and the freedom to see the doctors they want to.
or call Kyle directly at (302) 943-0318 for help.