Medicare Advantage and Part D plans are calendar year plans. Each year insurance companies offering these plans can choose to non-renew a plan or exit a service area.
If your Medicare Advantage or Part D plan is not going to be offered for the following year you are entitled to a Special Enrollment Period. This enrollment period gives you more time beyond the Annual Enrollment Period to choose a new plan.
The Special Enrollment Period begins December 8th and ends February 28th.
Some considerations for the Special Enrollment Period
There are a few things that you should be aware of if your Medicare plan is not renewing for the following year.
The first consideration if your Medicare Advantage plan is not renewing is whether you should choose a new Advantage plan or purchase a Medicare supplement.
Losing your Advantage plan gives you Guaranteed Issue Rights when buying a Medicare supplement. If you chose a Medicare Advantage plan because you were unable to qualify medically for a supplement, this is your opportunity to get a Medicare supplement.
If you decide to buy a Medicare supplement policy you can/must apply as early as 60 days prior to losing coverage, but no later than 63 days from when your coverage ends. You must apply for the Part D between December 8th and January 31st if you did not submit an application during the Annual Enrollment Period.
You have the right to buy Plan A, B, C, F, K, or L though any insurance company that offers these plans in your State.
The second thing to consider especially if you have decided to stay with a Medicare Advantage plan or are losing Part D is when to submit an application to avoid a lapse in coverage.
A plan’s effective date is the 1st of the month following the application date. If you wait until January 1st or later to submit an application your plan will not become effective until February 1st, leaving you without coverage (other than original Medicare) during January.
If you are enrolling in a Part D or Medicare Advantage plan during the Special Enrollment Period you are allowed to make one plan change. This is different than the Annual Enrollment Period where you are able to submit multiple applications with the last submitted becoming the one to be issued.
Each year thousands of people have plans that do not renew for the following year. Taking advantage of the Special Enrollment Period for non-renewing plans is your protection and your right to choose a new plan.
For some people, losing a plan is actually a blessing as they are able to buy a Medicare
supplement. If you are not interested in a Medicare supplement you may not really be losing that much as your plan was an annual plan to begin with.