Mark 2017 Open Enrollment on the Calendar Now

It is never too early to plan ahead for 2017 open enrollment and decide what changes need to be made in everyone’s health care coverage

The annual open enrollment (AEP) for 2017 Medicare coverage begins in October 15 and ends on December 7, 2017. During the enrollment period the following changes can be made:

Change from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare or from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage
Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another or change from one Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to another
Enroll in Medicare Part D, but a late enrollment fees may be applicable

It is important to remember that to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan there are basic criteria that need to be met, and these criteria are:

Plan holders must not have end-stage renal disease (exceptions apply)
Plan holders must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B
Plan holders must reside in the plan service area

What if the holder of the plan does not want any changes? If the holder of the plan does not want to make any changes, then there is no need to do anything, provided the current plan is going to be available in 2017. If it is not, then the plan holder will receive a non-renewal notice from the insurance carrier before the AEP. No non-renewal notice? The plan stays in place.

Even if plan holders wish to keep their current coverage it does not mean that there are no new changes coming for the year. Check to see if the current plan is still the best option and find out about any changes. Make sure to clearly understand any changes that may apply to the insurance coverage.

AEP is Here for Medicare – Work it to Your Advantage

This is the perfect time to focus on your Medicare customers. The Medicare Annual Election Period is at hand.

It can be confusing for your regular and potential clients to keep the various annual election periods (AEP) straight. For Medicare Advantage/Part C and Medicare prescription drug plans there is an annual period to sign up, disenroll or change coverage for a plan. That period is October 15 to December 7.

However, if leads you are working with during this period did not sign up for one of those plans when they were first eligible for Medicare, referred to as their initial enrollment period, the AEP is their chance to make changes. Having said that, there is an exception to that general rule of thumb if the lead qualifies for a Special Election Period. (SEP)

What changes can your new and existing Medicare customers make during the AEP?

Even though your agency has sold and serviced Medicare plans for years, and frequently works with new leads, it never hurts to have good information on hand when speaking to customers. Education is a crucial part of your job.

In general, here is what existing and new Medicare customers may do during the AEP:

  • Opt out of prescription drug coverage
  • Enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan
  • Switch from one drug plan to another
  • Switch from Original Medicare, parts A and B, to Medicare Advantage
  • Switch to Original Medicare from Medicare Advantage
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another

It’s important to note that any changes made during the open enrolment period do not go into effect until January 1 of the following year and your customers need to know that information.

The disenrollment period is January 1 to February 14 every year and new customers and converted leads can make changes during that period such as, switching to Original Medicare, Part A and B from Medicare Advantage.

The rules and regulations and dates and timing of when to start and stop or switch plans is considered to be one of the most frustrating things older Americans have to deal with every year. With the right approach to customer service, a thorough understanding of your products and the necessary educational component for your customers as part of your smart marketing plan, you are bound to garner numerous conversions from leads and keep existing clients happy.

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