If you or a loved one receives Medicare coverage, you know how complicated and confusing enrollment periods can be. Enrollment periods are only confusing because the term “Open Enrollment Period” is used correctly and incorrectly to describe times when a plan change is possible
Reinstating the Medicare Advantage “Open Enrollment Period”
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period was discontinued in 2010. In 2019, the OEP will make a return.
From 2011-2018 Medicare beneficiaries were given only the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP), during this time beneficiaries could disenroll from their Medicare Advantage plan and switch only to Original Medicare. Now all that is changing.
The Medicare OEP will begin on January 1st and end on March 31st. During this time Medicare beneficiaries can disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan and enroll into another Medicare Advantage plan. You also have the option of switching back to Original Medicare, with or without Part D coverage.
It’s important for beneficiaries to know that they won’t be able to switch Part D prescription drug plans. If you are currently enrolled in a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan you will need to change your policy during the Annual Enrollment Period from October 15 through December 7.
Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period
New terminology needs to be set up to make things easier for Medicare beneficiaries. It doesn’t need to be complicated, and it should be simplified.
The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is for Medicare beneficiaries that are new to Medicare Part B. This period lasts 6 months and begins on the first day of the month that you turn 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
So, if you turn 65 on April 8 and don’t join Medicare until May 20, your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment will start on June 1, which is the first day of the month in which you are both 65 and Enrolled in Medicare Part B.
Incorrectly Called “Open Enrollment Period”
The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) happens every year from October 15 through December 7, this enrollment period is commonly called the Open Enrollment Period. It’s incorrect to refer to the AEP as the OEP, but people do.
When a Medicare beneficiary turn 65, they become eligible for the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), this gives beneficiaries 7 months to enroll in a Medicare advantage plan. IEP is commonly mistaken for an Open enrollment Period. It’s clear that they are confusing the IEP with the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, while they are similar, they aren’t the same.