Medicare Advantage Enrollment

2014 Medicare and Medigap Updates

Medicare Advantage Enrollment

While Medicare Part A and Part B typically involve automatic enrollment for most policy owners, Medicare advantage enrollment is something that is not necessarily as easy nor as automatic. This short post is dedicated to explaining the nuances of Medicare advantage enrollment so those contemplating getting a Medicare advantage plan can decide in advance which is best for them to make sure they do not miss out on the most important things surrounding advanced Medicare.

First off, it is important to understand that Medicare advantage only becomes an option if you already have basic Medicare. The requirement, therefore, is that you have already duly completed the application process for basic Medicare before you begin thinking about Medicare advantage enrollment.

To this end, there are three qualifying scenarios as to when one can sign up for advanced Medicare:

You can bundle your enrollment for basic Medicare with advanced Medicare a few months before you turn 65. The Medicare guide book is explicit in stating that for a 7-month period spanning the 3 months before you turn 65 and 3 months after that month, you can sign up for basic and advanced Medicare at one time.

Medicare advantage enrollment is also open at certain times during the year. These are special enrollment periods that each have their own classification as to what is possible with advanced Medicare enrollment. For example, October 15 to December 7 of every year is known as Medicare open enrollment period and allows a policy holder to, among other things, change their policy from original to Medicare advantage or vice versa, switch from one Advantage Plan (say Plan C) to another (say Plan D), switch to a plan that does not offer drug coverage to one that allows it and vice versa, join a Medicare prescription drug plan, and a few others.

Other qualifying circumstances include moving from one address to another and the new address opens up options not available in your previous area, eligibility for Medicaid, qualification for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug plans, or institution care like those in a skilled nursing home.

For best results, it is always good to talk to a local Medicare representative or call the Medicare hotline at 1-800-MEDICARE. In certain cases where special circumstances are involved, only qualified Medicare personnel can give definitive advice on how to proceed with Medicare advantage enrollment. While the rules are well defined, one can never be really sure unless Medicare has ruled on a specific case.

More to the point, it is important to assess whether one can benefit from advanced Medicare or choose supplemental medical plans instead. Deciding on Medicare advantage enrollment is not an automatic process; rather, it requires introspection and decision making so one can match his or her needs to the offers available. This is important so one can maximize the expenditures associated with medical insurance without buying plans that are not necessary, redundant, or altogether expensive. In many, if not most cases Medicare supplement policies called Medigap are more beneficial.