Are you considering enrolling in a 2018 Medicare Advantage or Part D plan? Are you interested in finding out about changes to your current plan? Would you like to know when information on 2018 Medicare plans will be released?
Knowing when to keep a look out for important information from your current plan and when you can expect to see 2018 plans published at medicare.gov requires that you know about some important dates related to Medicare and Medicare enrollment.
What follows is a list of important events and dates associated with them. Not knowing when you can make changes is not a good excuse. So, it’s best to commit these dates to memory so you can be sure to maximize your Medicare experience.
Learning about changes to your current plan
Your Medicare Advantage or Part D plan will end on December 31st. It may be renewed for the following year, but that is not guaranteed.
Plan sponsors have several courses of action related to the following year. They can:
- Renew the plan
- Renew the plan but change the benefits
- Renew the plan with a new premium
- Renew the plan with different benefits and premium amounts
- Not renew the plan or leave the service area
Plan sponsors are required by CMS to mail a notice referred to as the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). You will receive this notice in September.
It is your responsibility to review the notice and take any appropriate action. If your plan is not renewing you will be granted a Special Enrollment Period which is more liberal than the annual Open enrollment Period.
Receiving the ANOC in September will give you a heads up to any changes and will allow you to review your plan options and compare plans when they are made available publicly on October 1st.
Enrolling in a Medicare plan for 2018
On October 1st you can visit medicare.gov and after following these steps you can see all available Medicare Advantage and Part D plans for 2018.
Insurance companies and their agents are allowed to start marketing activities at this time as well. Although plans are made public, companies and their agents are not allowed to accept enrollment applications until the annual Open Enrollment Period begins.
The enrollment period begins on October 15th and continues through December 7th.
During this time you are able to take the following action:
- Keep your current plan with any proposed changes
- Leave Medicare Advantage and return to original Medicare and apply for a Medigap policy
- Drop medicare Advantage and return to original Medicare
- Enroll in a different Medicare Advantage or Part D plan.
- Drop Part D (not recommended)
2018 Medicare Advantage and Part D plans become effective on January 1st.
Even if your current plan is renewing, there most likely are changes to either benefits, premiums or both. You should take the opportunity to compare your plan with other available plans.
If you are considering a Medicare supplement and are no longer in your Medigap open enrollment period or are not entitled to Guaranteed Issue Rights you will generally be subject to Medical underwriting.
Apply for supplemental coverage early enough so you can know if you are accepted before your annual Open Enrollment period for Medicare Advantage ends.
If you apply in late September or early October, request an effective date for January 1st. This should allow you time to enroll in an Advantage plan if you do not pass medical underwriting.
Cancelling Medicare Advantage
If you have enrolled in an Advantage plan and would like to cancel that coverage, your window of opportunity is limited.
The Annual Dis-enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage begins January 1st and continues through February 14th.
During this time you can return to original Medicare. You can also choose to submit an application for a Medicare supplement. You can also enroll in a stand-alone Part D plan.
You cannot choose to enroll in another Medicare Advantage plan unless you are entitled to a Special Enrollment Period.
If you would like to cancel your Medicare Advantage plan and apply for a Medicare supplement, do so early enough to learn if your accepted prior to February 14th.
Unless you’re prepared to be insured only by original Medicare, don’t cancel your Advantage plan until you know that you will have a Medicare supplement policy issued.
Medicare Advantage and Part D enrollment important dates overview
- ANOC arrives in the mail in the month of September
- October 1st – Medicare plans for 2018 are made public
- October 15th – December 7th – annual Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage and Part D
- December 31st – 2017 plan coverage ends
- January 1st – 2018 plan become effective
- January 1st – February 14th – annual Dis-enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage
Keep these important dates for Medicare enrollment in your sights and maximize your opportunity to find the right plan.