Annual Disenrollment and What It Means For You

Even though Open Enrollment just ended, this doesn’t mean you are completely out of time. The Annual Disenrollment Period exists for those whom wish to leave their Medicare Advantage and/or Part D plans. The industry joke is that beneficiaries have until Valentine’s Day to break up with their current plans.

While confusing as Open Enrollment just ended, the purpose of the Disenrollment period is to give beneficiaries a chance to leave Part C and/or D completely, whereas Open Enrollment allows beneficiaries to switch plans and carriers once a year. You are also allowed to leave during Open Enrollment, but January 1 through February 14th gives you one more opportunity to say goodbye to Part C and/or Part D.

There are three scenarios in which you are able to switch: The first is for those who have an Advantage plan that includes a drug plan. These folks can decide to purchase a stand alone Part D plan or just wing it with Original Medicare (I don’t support the latter). The second scenario is for those who own Private Fee-For-Service plans (these don’t include prescription coverage). If this is you, unfortunately you won’t be able to purchase Part D until next October, however you are able to revert back to Original Medicare. Now, let’s say you only own a Part D policy, as with the scenario above, you will not be able to switch carriers/plans until next year, however, you are able to say goodbye to Part D if you so desire. Bottom line, you can dis-enroll from your Part C and D and revert back to Original Medicare.

You may be asking yourself, well, what happens after I dis-enroll? Luckily, you will be able to either stick with Original Medicare or do the smart thing and purchase a Medicare Supplement policy. Be advised, prior to dis-enrolling, you will want to make sure that you qualify medically for a Medicare Supplement. You can speak with a Medicare Supplement agent about whether or not you qualify.

For those who own a Medicare Supplement and want to switch plans/carriers, you don’t have to wait for any “special” period! One of the reasons Medicare Supplements are flexible. If you are unhappy with your plan/carrier, and you qualify medically (no major conditions, ailments, or surgeries pending), you can switch any day of the year! There are no deadlines regarding this Medigap coverage. Many people are shocked when I first tell them “well, actually, you can apply after December 7th, there is no enrollment deadline for Medigap.”

The only Medicare supplemental coverage that contain restrictions are Parts C and D; beneficiaries of these plans must adhere to Open Enrollment and Disenrollment restrictions.

If you are tired of the unexpected costs of Medicare Advantage, make the switch this January! Give your Part C the good old “It’s me, not you,” and move on!