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Open Enrollment Period Returning in 2019

Agents rejoice, there will soon be an extra 3 month opportunity to sell Medicare Advantage plans beyond the 54-day Annual Enrollment Period!  Effective January 1st, 2019, the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) will make its way back to the market and provide clients the opportunity to make changes to their Medicare healthcare coverage.  Some of the veteran agents may remember the OEP before it was dissolved in 2011 and replaced by the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP).

Disclaimer: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is still working through guidance on how the new election period will run, including marketing rules.  Below is a synopsis of the OEP as it existed in the past and these details/rules are subject to change.

First, this is not an extension of the AEP, which will still occur between October 15th and December 7th each year.  Second, the OEP does not provide the same flexibility as the AEP where clients can make any change they want.  Instead, clients are able to make “like plan” changes between January 1st and March 31st, here’s the criteria:

  • MAPD to MAPD
  • MAPD to Original Medicare and a Part D
  • MA Only plan to MA Only plan
  • MA Only plan to Original Medicare

The OEP will be a one-time use election period, so clients are limited to just one change during the 3 month window, and effective dates will be first of the following month after the client’s signature date.  Clients returning to Original Medicare will have the opportunity to pick up a Medicare Supplement plan, but they will be subject to underwriting as the OEP does not provide a guarantee issue situation.

Barring any changes to the “like plan” guidelines, you can see there is a lot of opportunity to continue offering Medicare Advantage coverage during the OEP.  As CMS releases more guidance we will work to keep everyone updated.

Chris Hagerstrom

Chris Hagerstrom is the National Marketing Communications Analyst at Jack Schroeder and Associates, Inc. Through years of experience he has become an expert with Medicare, Life Insurance, Annuities and Supplemental Health and how to successfully navigate the senior market.