Is It Too Late To Change My Plan?

Question: Today is December 5 and the end of enrollment is December 7. Can I still change plans now? Will I get my information in time?

Answer: This time of year seems to have so much packed into it. Halloween, Thanksgiving and then all the preparation for Christmas. The Annual Open Enrollment Period (AEP) of October 15 to December 7 is that same period of time. It is hard to imagine missing all the ads in the newspaper, TV, mail and phone calls that you get from the insurance companies, wanting you to take their product in 2023. I know that some of you have not done anything yet, because the Senior Life Matters phones are still ringing.

You have until midnight Dec. 7 to make your insurance change during this annual open enrollment period!

If you have already made a choice and now have changed your mind, you can do a new enrollment. The last enrollment you do before Dec. 7 is the plan enrollment that you will have. I don’t recommend waiting until the last day, but sometimes our situations mandate waiting until the last day.

When your enrollment choice is made at the last minute, you should still get your information in the mail prior to Jan. 1, 2023. If you need to fill a prescription in January before you get your ID card, you can call the company you chose and they can give you the ID number you need, or use the medicare.gov log in to print out a temporary card.

Remember that most people complete their enrollment through the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), using the medicare.gov website or the 1-800-MEDICARE phone number to facilitate their enrollment. This means that Medicare is collecting the enrollment, but sending it on to the insurance company to process. Yes, computers are fast, but there are more than 64 million Medicare recipients making these changes right now. As with any change we need to make, I don’t recommend procrastinating until the last moment.

Medicare communicates the disenrollment to your 2022 insurance plan. You will continue to get information from your old company for a number of months, because they will continue to cover you through the end of December. In fact you shouldn’t contact most plans to dis-enroll, Medicare does that for you. There are some exceptions to that rule. Two exceptions to that rule are if you have a PFFS (Private Fee For Service) plan, or a Medicare Supplement Plan (Medigap). These plans are NOT tied to your Prescription Drug Plan. If you have one of these plans and wish to change your coverage you must write a letter to cancel those types of insurance, in addition to joining a new plan.

If you have changed plans, do NOT to use your old (2022) insurance cards after January 1, 2023.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan remember that you also have the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period of January 1 to March 31 each year to change your coverage to whatever type of coverage you wish. Those individuals with Medicare Advantage Plans don’t have to hurry up to get your insurance changed, you can do it in January, February or March of 2023.

You may also have special enrollment periods open to you to make a switch later on in 2022 & 2023. There are Special Enrollment Periods (SEP) available to us throughout the year, but be sure your choice is the best you can make with the information you have available to you.

A SEP that we can commonly use once each year is being a member of EPIC. EPIC is the New York State Pharmacy Assistance Product that gives you extra coverage for your Prescription Drugs. This SEP can be used later in December or anytime during 2023.

In 2023 you also have many Medicare Advantage Plans that are FIVE STAR rated for Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties. That means you can switch into one of those plans any time you wish during 2023. This is an opportunity to switch to a Five Star plan any time of the year.

Happy Insurance Season to all and to all Good Health!

Senior Life Matters is a community based program sponsored by Lutheran Jamestown. For questions, concerns or to reach Janell Sluga, GCMC, call 716-720-9797 or email SLM@lutheran-jamestown.org.


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