Medicare Annual Enrollment Period: Doneby Denise Early on Jan. 01, 2011, under Health
The Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare beneficiaries ended at midnight, December 31st. Medicare beneficiaries who wanted to (or needed to) change their Medicare Advantage plan or their Part D drug plan should have take action by this time. For those who delayed or didn’t pay attention, their opportunity to make a change has passed.
I got a call on Friday morning, December 31st, from a lady who said she had been researching her Medicare Advantage options for a month, but was finding it impossible to decide which plan would be best for her. She said she got sidetracked by a family holiday trip and was now a bit panicked that she had not changed to another Medicare Advantage plan before the deadline.
I gave this lady information on a couple of Advantage plans and told her to study the summaries of benefits and call me back. She did call back a few hours later to tell me she wanted to enroll in one particular plan and had called the company to enroll. This was early Friday afternoon (December 31st) and she was told the company was overwhelmed with phone calls and she should try back later.
A few days earlier I had received a call from a lady with a private-fee-for-service Medicare Advantage plan that was being canceled as of January 1. I asked this lady why she had waited until the last moment to look into her Medicare coverage options, and she said she had been ill for about a month and had not been able to do the necessary research.
With 11.5 million people enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans and another 28 million enrolled in Part D, I wonder how many people wanted to make a change to their coverage but did not make the deadline? With Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in the 45-day Annual Enrollment Period, there are plenty of distractions for Medicare beneficiaries during this important time.
In previous years Medicare beneficiaries had the open enrollment period of January through March to change their Medicare Advantage plan. That option is no longer available. In 2011, if a people are unhappy with their Advantage plan, they can dis-enroll from their Advantage plan and enroll in a stand-alone Part D plan between January 1 and February 14th. That is their only option for changing their Medicare coverage. (And when they return to Medicare they should get a Medicare supplement – if they have no health conditions that will allow the supplement company to reject them.)
It will be interesting see see if there are many complaints from seniors about the reduced time period for making changes to Medicare coverage.