Why People With Medicare Need To Pay Attention To The National Open Enrollment


Obamacare vs

At The Insurance Barn, we work with insurance issues that are specific to Baby Boomers.  That means we have to stay informed on what is happening in health insurance for both pre-retirees and the older Baby Boomers who have already enrolled in Medicare.

As Obamacare’s National Open Enrollment starts tomorrow, I have noticed that more Baby Boomers are getting confused.  The majority of questions I get each day are from confused people who have already enrolled in Medicare.  They typically want to know one of two things.

  1. Do people with Medicare have to do anything during Obamacare’s National Enrollment?
  2. How will Obamacare affect Medicare Supplement?

In this post I will try to answer both of those questions.

QUESTION #1

People who are over age 65 and are enrolled in Medicare part A do NOT have to do anything during the National Open Enrollment.  They are specifically exempt from Obamacare’s Individual Mandate.

However, it is very important for people in this category to remember that Medicare A offers very limited benefits.  They are not even close to the benefits that are provided in the Obamacare metal plans.  If all you have is Medicare A, consider adding Medicare B, D, and Medigap to your portfolio in order to have coverage that is closer to what is offered in the metal plans.

QUESTION # 2

For the past few months, the most popular post on this blog has been, “What Affect Will Obamacare Have On Medicare Supplement?”  You are free to click on the link to read the entire article, but I can sum up the effect of Obamacare on Medigap in one word, “NONE.”

That does not mean that changes are not being considered for Medigap in D.C.  They are!  However, Obamacare is not to blame for any future changes to Medigap.  They will be the result of different legislation in the future.

While traditional Medigap was left alone by Obamacare, changes were made to Medicare D (Prescription Drug Plans) and Medicare Advantage.  Both of those programs started to change in 2010 and the changes continue for several years to come.

SOURCE OF CONFUSION

The biggest source of confusion is the over-lap of Obamacare’s National Open Enrollment and Medicare’s Annual Election Period.

The period of time in which Americans, under the age of 65, can purchase health insurance is the 6 month period that starts on October 1.  When that Open Enrollment ends, next March, Americans will not be able to purchase Major Medical type health insurance until the following Annual Election Period, in October.  (Supplements to the metal plans will still be available, but they will still be subject to medical qualification.)

Baby Boomers, over the age of 65, who are enrolled in Medicare do not have to do anything during the National Open Enrollment.  However, if you have Medicare D or Medicare Advantage, you still have to pay attention.

Earlier this month you should have gotten a letter from your insurance company.  It is officially called an, “Annual Notice of Changes (ANOC).”

Both Medicare D and Medicare Advantage plans are based on annual contracts with CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).  That is the division of the Department of Health and Human Services that oversees both Medicare and the Federally Facilitated Exchanges (Marketplaces.)

If your insurance company has made changes to your plan for 2014 that you find unacceptable, you cannot wait until next year to switch.  You must respond with a change of insurance company during Medicare’s Annual Election Period (AEP).

Whether it was done intentionally or by accident, I do not know.  What I do know is that the AEP is only 6 WEEKS that fall during the first half of the National Open Election for Obamacare.

Next year, it will not be as confusing.  All Americans will have the same 6 week period in which to make adjustments to their health insurance portfolio.  It is only this year that people with Medicare have to pay closer attention.

In spite of all the Obamacare advertisements, if you are enrolled in Medicare and want to make changes to either your Medicare D or Medicare Advantage plans, you must do it by December 6, 2013.  You do NOT have until March 31, 2014.

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