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Missed Medicare Open Enrollment? Here's What To Do

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Missed Medicare Open Enrollment? Here's What To Do

No doubt you've heard about this year's Open Enrollment for Obamacare. But if you're turning 65 or older, you care about a different enrollment period: Medicare Open Enrollment. Also known as the Annual Election Period (AEP), this is the time of year that you can pick or change your health insurance plan through Medicare.

But the AEP has come and gone! It ran from October 15 to December 7, 2014. If you missed Open Enrollment 2015, do you have to wait until October to get covered? Maybe not. Just ask yourself these questions:

1) Am I Turning 65?

If you're turning 65, you have seven months to get a Medicare policy. During the Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP), you can enroll three months before you turn 65, and up to three months after the month you turn 65.

2) Do I Want To Change Plans?

If you don't like the plan you have, switch it! However, the rules for changing your plan right now are very strict. Here's how it works:

  • Do you have Medicare Advantage? If yes, then congrats! You can change plans. If no, then sorry (but keep reading). We've listed other options you might have.
  • You can only switch to a type of plan called Original Medicare. (Ask your agent what this means.)
  • The window of time to make the switch is tiny. You only have from January 1 to February 14 to get it done.

So if you want to leave your Medicare Advantage plan, time is running out!

3) Did Something Important Happen To Me Last Year?

If you had a big life change last year, then you might qualify for something called a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). Here are some "special circumstances" that would make you eligible:

  • You moved outside a plan's service area
  • You're not making enough money (and now you qualify for Medicaid)
  • You lost or changed jobs
  • You lost COBRA coverage
  • Your provider made some changes to their contracts
  • You have a severe or disabling condition that makes you eligible for a Medicare special needs plan
  • You had some other life event that made you miss Open Enrollment (For example, people affected by the winter storm in western New York will qualify for SEP this year)

4) Do I Want A Better Plan?

Medicare reviews each plan using a 5-star rating system. If you want to upgrade to a 5-star plan, you can switch over anytime -- even after Open Enrollment has ended. These plans aren't available everywhere, so ask an insurance agent if you can upgrade your plan.

5) Do I Like The Plan I Already Have?

Unlike regular insurance offered under Obamacare, you don't need to sign up each year for a plan. If you're satisfied with the Medicare policy you have, you don't have to do anything! Wasn't that easy?

If you're sticking with the plan you have, look at the details of your plan. They might have changed.

So even if you like your plan, you should see what else is out there. Shop around this October during Open Enrollment 2016. You might find another plan that covers more of what you need, for less than what you're paying now.

Get Help Deciphering Medicare

Medicare is confusing, but don't worry, we're not going to surprise you with a pop quiz. We're just here to help you figure out your options, and get a good plan. Talk to a licensed, friendly agent who will help you get the coverage you need today!