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United Healthcare MedicareDirect Not Renewing?

Funny Traffic Cop Is your United HealthCare MedicareDirect plan going away?

If you have followed the news about legislation that affected Private Fee-For-Service plans (PFFS), you may be expecting to receive a letter informing you that United HealthCare MedicareDirect will not be renewed for next year.

This doesn’t just pertain to plans from United Healthcare.  In fact tens of thousands of people who enrolled in a PFFS Medicare Advantage plan will receive notices that their plan is not renewing for next year.

Insurance companies are required to mail the Annual Notice of Change notices each September. This notice details any changes to plan benefits and premiums as well as whether or not the current plan will be available for the following year.

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Don’t panic… you are protected

When you enrolled in your Medicare Advantage plan you enrolled in an annual plan. There was no guarantee that your plan’s benefits or monthly premium would remain the same for the following year or that the plan would continue to be available.

But you are protected. The insurance company administering the Advantage plan is obligated to honor their contract. If your United Healthcare MedicareDirect plan is not renewing  the insurance company must:

  • Allow you uninterrupted coverage of your plan benefits through December 31st.
  • Pay all valid claims incurred prior to midnight December 31st.
  • Continue to provide customer service for concerns or as it relates to claims incurred prior to midnight December 31st.

In addition to having your plan intact, you will now have a Special Election Period (SEP) to enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan. If you choose not to enroll in an Advantage plan for the following year you can return to original Medicare and purchase a stand-alone Medicare Part D drug plan.

 

In addition to having the option to return to original Medicare you also have a Guaranteed Enrollment Period which allows you to purchase a Medicare supplement policy without medical underwriting.

If you have considered a Medigap policy but were concerned about pre-existing conditions losing your Medicare Advantage plan could be a blessing in disguise.

Steps to take if your MedicareDirect plan is no longer available

The good news is that you are protected through the end of the year. But there are certain steps you must take to secure coverage for next year.

    1. Educate yourself on the differences between Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare supplement policies and decide which is your best option.
    2. If you choose to enroll in an Advantage plan you have the protection of a SEP which gives you mre time than the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). Compare plans including what may be available from Unitedhealthcare.
    3. If a Medicare supplement is the way to go be aware that plans are standardized and it’s a lot easier to compare supplemental coverage than comparing Advantage plans.
    4. If you have chosen Medicare supplemental insurance you will need to purchase a stand-alone Part D plan.



    If you want to stay with an Advantage plan it may be time to consider a network-bases plan like a PPO or HMO. The availability of PFFS plans is not going to get any better in the coming years and you may find yourself in the same position next year.

    If switching to a supplement is your choice then you may want to consider the benefits of Medicare Supplement Plan N. It has a lower cost than many of the the other plans and is an easy transition from a Medicare Advantage plan.

    Follow the steps above if your United Healthcare MedicareDirect plan does not renew. Make sure that you do not procrastinate. Your SEP ends January 31 but if you wait until January to choose a new plan you will be without coverage during January. Start by comparing plans online to get the information to make an informed decision and get the best Medicare plan for you circumstances.

4 comments

  1. I only found out today, Oct. 12, that Secure Horizons Medicare Direct will not be available in 2011! I have never received notification regarding this as of this date despite the above notation that I was to be notified NO LATER THAN OCT 2 !!! This makes me totally insecure with this company! Who can I complain to?

  2. Monahan, I guess you could address your concerns to the Company, CMS or the postal service, but I’m guessing it will not make a difference. I personally wouldn’t waste my time or energy. I understand how you feel, it is frustrating, but a Medicare Advantage plan is an annual plan and this can happen. I’d expend my energy looking for a new plan, or take a look at a Medigap policy. With a Medigap policy like Plan N or F (I like both), you shouldn’t have these problems. If it is affordable, you now have a guaranteed issue period where you health will not be a factor.

  3. United sure seems to be making this confusing. They send out a form that you may have preexisting condition exclusions..so I imagine there is no underwriting to switch with this plan ending. Then they send out an application to their medigap plan and the first question is have you been to a dr for knee or back problems, if so this plan is not applicable to you.

    My only assumption is they don’t seem to want to make it obvious they are guaranteed coverage? I’m assuming they are from the previous document sent and your article above but if so i’m more than a bit surprised as that seems an extremely p*ss poor way to execute something like this with that confusion. I cannot imagine their phones don’t ring off the hook due to the 2nd form.

    My mother said we she can’t get coverage, then I went to reading everything that was sent to her and searching online before calling this week….

  4. Secure Horizons doesn’t have the market cornered on confusing communications, and I certainly sympathize with you. Maybe you need to find a local agent that you and address your concerns to. Most agents are eager to straighten things out, especially if they can add a new client to their book of business.

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