Going back to Medicareby Denise Early on Jan. 29, 2010, under Health
Quite a few seniors are giving up their Medicare Advantage plans and going back to Medicare. This change can still be made before March 31st and here’s how it’s done. People dropping Medicare Advantage should sign up for a Medicare Supplement and a Part D plan, and timing is very important for the application process.
I know lots of seniors are moving back to Medicare because my contact at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona told me they have been overwhelmed with Medicare Supplement applications. I know timing is important because I’ve had a heck of a time getting my clients’ Medicare Supplements finalized after we submitted them on December 16th. Here’s what happened.
My contact at Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) assured me that two weeks was enough time to process Medicare Supplement applications for a January 1 effective date. This may be the case under normal circumstances, but this past December was not normal because so many seniors decided to apply for Medicare Supplements at the same time.
I told my clients they should disenroll from their Medicare Advantage plan only when they got confirmation from BCBS that they were covered by the Medicare Supplement. However, BCBS was overwhelmed with Med Supp applications in December. No word came from BCBS in December. No word came in early-January. Finally, in mid-January, letters arrived saying my clients were covered “effective January 1st”. But there was a problem with this.
Because my clients had not disenrolled from their Medicare Advantage plans, their Medicare Supplement (effective Jan. 1) would do them no good, so they should not pay a January premium. So we faxed letters explaining the circumstances and waited for BCBS to change their effective date to February 1. Apparently, changing the effective date is not so easy – or at least they had to get in line. And so I spent the month of January checking on the applications. And today, January 29th, I have finally been told that everything is confirmed for February 1.
Now my clients can disenroll from their Medicare Advantage plans and here’s how they do it. They must enroll in a “stand-alone” Part D plan. Back in December we had reviewed Part D plans, so they were ready to call and enroll over the phone. Once their Part D application goes to Medicare, Medicare sees in their record that they have been enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan with a drug plan. The Part D plan enrollment will automatically disenroll them from the Medicare Advantage plan. The new Part D coverage will begin on February 1st. Whew!
The important lessons from this experience are:
1) People can drop their Medicare Advantage plan (MAPD) and go back to Medicare, but they need to enroll in a Part D plan to do this – and they should get a Medicare Supplement.
2) A Medicare Supplement application should be submitted at the beginning of the month so there is plenty of time for the paperwork to get processed. Try to avoid being in the situation where you need to ask for the start date to be changed, as this also takes time.
For more information check out: http://medicarechoicesofarizona.com