Important Notes for December 2017

Annual Election Period (AEP)

The AEP, also known as Medicare open enrollment, ends December 7th. This is the deadline for changing your Part D Prescription plan (PDP) or changing or adding a Medicare advantage with prescription drugs (MA-PD) plan.

We have republished some excerpts from a previous article detailing the kinds of changes you can make during the AEP.

  1. Change from one PDP to another PDP.
  2. Adding a new PDP. Please keep in mind that you may be subject to a late enrollment penalty (LEP) if you never have had a PDP.
  3. Change from one MA-PD to another MA-PD.
  4. Disenroll from your MA-PD and switch to original Medicare (OM) only.
  5. You want to switch from a Medicare supplement plan to an MA-PD. Be sure to cancel your Medsupp plan the end of December.
  6. You currently have an MA-PD and want to go to a Medicare supplement.
    1. This one is a little tricky. If you are voluntarily leaving your MA or MA-PD plan, you have to apply and medically qualify for a Medicare supplement. This is NOT a guarantee issue! Then, if you do qualify, you will need to notify your MA or MA-PD plan that you want to disenroll and return to original Medicare effective Jan. 1, 2018.
    2. If you received a disenrollment letter from your MA-PD plan, you do NOT need to notify your MA-PD provider.

For a smooth transition, be sure to work with us on this one.

The Special Enrollment Period (SEP) begins December 8th

The those who have received a disenrollment notice from your Medicare advantage plan provider, you have a Special Enrollment Period that runs from December 8 through the end of February 2018.

Some people have frantically contacted us thinking that they have a December 7 deadline. While that is true for people switching plans, it is NOT the case for those that have received a disenrollment notice from their Medicare advantage company. Medicare wants you to have plenty of time to choose a new plan! Please contact us if you have yet to decide which way you want to go.


Changing a Medicare Supplement (Medsupp) plan

A question that comes up every year is when can I change my Medsupp plan. The answer is that you can change your Medsupp plan any month of the year subject to medical qualification. Please refer to the more detailed article in our September issue of Northwest Senior News.

A common misunderstanding among some people is thinking that the AEP is open enrollment for a Medsupp plan. Yes, it can be confusing. Remember, for most people, once you are past 65 ½, you can change your Medsupp plan any month of the year, again, subject to medical qualification.


Prescription Drug Plans

After running hundreds of people’s combinations of prescriptions on’s website, we have noticed another interesting trend. Four or five years ago we signed up people for two low cost PDPs that offered the lowest estimated annual cost for many people. (Please refer to our companion article in this issue discussing what is meant by the annual cost.)

Times have changed. For the most part, these plans have become also-rans. In many cases they are substantially more expensive compared to newer designed plans. This is why we pound the table with a strong recommendation that you have us shop your PDP every year.

In many cases, your current PDP may still be the most competitive one for 2018. If that is the case, we will notify you to stay the course.

However, in one case here is what we discovered. Alice Rankton (fictitious) signed up for the Super Health Medicare Saver PDP plan (a real example with a fictitious name) a few years ago. We re-ran her meds on Using her preferred pharmacy of Shopko her annual spend for Super Health would have been $1,369. This plan wasn’t even close to being her best buy.

Again, using Shopko the Bargain Scripts Value Plus (another fictitious name) came in with an annual spend of $709. Wow, her also-ran Super Health would have cost her almost double compared to the Bargain Value plan.

We might add that in this case Bargain Value does not work with agents, so we gave Alice their phone number to sign herself up for this new plan. We are not compensated when we do this.


The Key Takeaway

Understandably, we don’t like change. Personally, I (Lance) am annoyed when a website revamps their format forcing me to learn it all over again. Fortunately, Isaac comes to my rescue.

Regarding PDP’s, I’ve heard too many people say: I don’t want to change!

I well understand how those people feel. However, the plans are changing on you, and if you don’t stay current with the most competitive plans, it can financially cost you dearly. End