Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment – New Dates


by Mary Jane Stern

Over the years people enrolled in Medicare Part C or Medicare Advantage usually had the opportunity to change their plans during the Advantage Plan Open Enrollment which is January, February and March.

In 2011 all that changes and if you want to change your plan, you must change your Advantage Plan between November 15th and December 31st.

You do have a slight grace period if you wish to dis-enroll from Medicare Part C and return to Original Medicare.  This can be done between January 1st and February 15th, but ONLY if you want to go back to Original Medicare and a stand-alone Part D Plan, if the Advantage Plan included a drug plan.

Medicare Marketing Season

Medicare has a marketing season and it begins on October 1st, each and every year.  Don’t wait until the last minute to find out that your Advantage Plan has increased rates, made other changes -- Remember you can only change during November 15 and December 31st.

Take the time to review what your Plan may or may not be offering for 2011.  Look at what has changed.  What you have in 2010 might not be there in 2011.

If your plan included a Part D drug plan, review the medications to make sure your prescription is still being covered by your plan for 2011.  Check out the Tier levels and make sure they are not including restrictions in 2011 for your drug.

I caution you on this as during 2010 we found out the hard way that one of my husband’s medications turned into a “Step Therapy” drug and we were actually denied the right to have it filled unless we (1) took an alternate drug, or (2) had the physician fill out the necessary medical information.  And, they never offered a 30 day “grace” supply while we waited for the paperwork approvals.

The Healthcare companies follow the law by sending out the information required by Medicare.  You usually get a huge package sometime before October 31st.  They call it the Annual Notice of Change. But in reality, do we really sit down and read this information thoroughly.  I can imagine that most of us are shaking our heads and saying “no.”

In 2011 Plans are required to ensure that enrollees receive a one-time temporary supply of a non-formulary drug requested during the first 90 days of coverage.

It will be interesting to see what has changed, how much more expensive the plans are and what they DO NOT offer anymore.

Let us know after you have checked out your plan for 2011 if your plan has made any changes and did they increase your monthly premium, change prescription drugs, etc.

As an example: They no longer offer vision testing or Silver Sneakers!  Or, one of my prescriptions has new restrictions for 2011.