Medicare’s Open Enrollment has been expanded

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According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “beginning this year, consumers will have an extra 30 days to review and choose health plans through Open Enrollment.

Open Enrollment is now between October 15, 2021 to January 15, 2022.

Medicare’s Open Enrollment is a time for Medicare beneficiaries to change their health coverage. During Open Enrollment a Medicare beneficiary may:
  • Switch to an Medicare Advantage Plan from Original Medicare.
  • Switch to Original Medicare from a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Change their Medicare Advantage Plans without restrictions to another Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Choose to enroll in a stand-alone Part D prescription drug.
  • Change their stand-alone Part D prescription drug plans.
Why the extra time:

The main reason may be the fact that the Medicare Board of Trustees (MBT) did not release its annual report until August 31. By Congressional regulations the deadline for the release of this report is April 1. Granted, since 2001 the report has only been released on time 10 out of the last 21 years. 2021 just happens to mark the latest time this report ever been released.

The MBT report, among many other things, provides projections on what the premiums, deductibles and costs for all of the Parts of Medicare may be.

This delay in providing information may be one of the reasons why the extension for Open Enrollment has been provided.

Another factor as to why there is an extension for Open Enrollment may be that the MBT report in 2021, like 2020, is stating that due to certain circumstance estimates for future costs can not be determined this year.

This may also be the reason why CMS has yet to provide any details on any Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D Plans for 2022.

The extension of Open Enrollment for 2022, because of the lack of transparency, will greatly benefit Medicare beneficiaries. Making a decision too soon without proper information may not be a wise idea.

Under Medicare guidelines if a beneficiary enrolls into a plan and that plan changes within that year there is no option to enroll into another until the next year. With this expansion there should be sufficient time to make the right decision.

The question now is when will CMS release any information and what will be the consequences?

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