Another year, another Medicare Annual Enrollment period has arrived and come to a close.
For insurance brokers, it is such a busy time of year that is feels as if you blink you’ll miss it. While many Medicare beneficiaries do choose to make a change during this period, others don’t for a variety of reasons, though sometimes this comes as a cost. Medicare enrollees sometimes find, after it is too late, surprises that may have impacted their choices during the Annual Enrollment Period. After January 1st, when new plans become active, they discover that the physician that was in-network with their plan the previous year is no longer. Sometimes they discover that co-pays or their prescription formulary has changed, resulting in different than expected costs. Sometimes they discover that they don’t like their new Medicare plan or that their plan downright stinks.
Fortunately for these people, there is a first-time solution on the horizon for 2019. A new regulation that Congress implemented in the 21st Century Cures Act allows Medicare beneficiaries to “test drive” their Medicare Advantage plans for the first three months of the calendar year. Anytime between January 1 and March 31st, an enrollee can make a one-time switch to a new Medicare Advantage plan.
While this period is not meant to replace or be an extension of the Annual Enrollment Period (those on Original Medicare cannot switch to a Medicare Advantage plan during this time), it is welcome news to those who may have missed their opportunity or are unhappy with their health plan once the new year rolls around.