Annual Disenrollment and What It Means For You

Although Open Enrollment has just ended, that does not mean that you have no time left. The annual disenrollment period is for those who wish to discontinue their Medicare Advantage and / or Part D plan. The industry joke is that the beneficiaries can put an end to their current plans by Valentine’s Day.

The purpose of the disenrollment deadline is to allow beneficiaries to leave Part C and / or D completely, while Open Enrollment allows beneficiaries to change plans and carriers once a year. You can also disenroll during open enrollment, but January 1 through February 14 gives you another opportunity to put an end to Part C and / or Part D.

There are three scenarios in which you can switch: the first is for those who have an Advantage plan that includes a medication plan. These people can choose to buy a standalone Part D plan or just fly with Original Medicare (I do not support the latter). The second scenario is for those who have private fee for service plans (these do not contain prescription coverage).

Unfortunately, if you are, you will not be able to buy Part D until next October, but you can still use Original Medicare. Let’s say you have only a Part D policy. As in the scenario above, you cannot change the carriers / plans until next year. However, you can put an end to Part D if you wish. The bottom line is that you can unsubscribe from Part C and D and return to Original Medicare.

You may be wondering what happens after you sign out? Fortunately, you can either stay with Original Medicare or do the smart thing and acquire a Medicare supplement policy. Before signing out, make sure that you qualify for a Medicare supplement plan. You can talk to a Medicare supplement agent about whether you are qualified or not.

For those who have a Medicare supplement and want to change plans / carriers, you do not have to wait for a “special” period! One of the reasons Medicare supplements are flexible. If you are dissatisfied with your plan / carrier, and you qualify for medical (no major conditions, complaints or operations pending), you can change every day of the year! There are no deadlines for this Medigap coverage.

Many people are shocked when I first tell them, “Well, you can actually apply after December 7, there is no registration deadline for Medigap.”

The only Medicare supplement that contains restrictions are Parts C and D; Beneficiaries of these plans must adhere to the restrictions on open entry and exit.  Get an advantage plan at https://www.medicareadvantage2019.org/

If you’re sick of the unexpected cost of Medicare Advantage, start this January! Give your part C the good old “It’s me, not you” and move on!

You need to enroll for Medicare Part A and possibly for Part B when you retire even if your employer offers a retirement health plan. Most plans assume that you are insured under Medicare and do not pay for benefits that Medicare would have granted. Veterans may qualify for special medical programs. However, benefits and eligibility are very restricting and can be modified.

A recommendation from the Department of Veterans Affairs is that veterans should apply for both parts A and parts B of Medicare to guarantee adequate medical care.