This year marks an important change in Medicare’s annual open enrollment, the time period during which people can choose to change plans or shift from Medicare Advantage to Traditional Medicare.
Open Enrollment starts earlier – on October 15, 2011 – and lasts longer (7 full weeks) to give beneficiaries enough time to review and make changes to their coverage. As a result, however, beneficiaries will need to make their elections for next year’s Medicare coverage by December 7, 2011 rather than the usual December 31. The new open enrollment period will better ensure that individuals have their membership cards in hand and receive uninterrupted health care coverage on January 1, 2012.
“Medicare open enrollment is coming early this year, and as people with Medicare make their health and prescription drug coverage choices, they will see that we’ve strengthened consumer protections and improved plan choices,” said CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, M.D. “Due to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Advantage and prescription drug benefits are stronger than ever, and beneficiaries will continue to have access to a range of affordable products.”
CMS is encouraging beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug plans to review their current health and drug plan coverage for any changes their plans may be making for 2012 before the annual open enrollment period begins on October 15. Beneficiaries should receive their 2012 Medicare & You handbook as well as a notice from their current plan that describes any changes from 2011 to 2012 over the next few weeks.
Source: US Department of Health & Human Services, News Release – Sept 15, 2011