Medicare’s enrollment period begins every year about this time, which means that it is time for Arizona Medicare recipients to consider their Medicare options. And, as this is the first enrollment period since the recent health care reform legislation was passed, you should be aware of one significant change from year’s past. It used to be that Medicare offered two enrollment periods, the first from November 15th to December 31st, for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans, and a second from January 1st to March 31st, for Medicare Advantage plans only. Under the health care reform bill, however, the second enrollment period will no longer be available, which means that Arizona seniors must make changes to their Medicare Advantage plans this fall if they wish to at all.
The reform bill does not eliminate the second enrollment period altogether, but makes significant changes to its duration and purpose. The second enrollment period will now last from January 1st to February 15th, but Medicare Advantage members may not switch plans during this time. Instead, they are limited to switching to traditional Medicare or adding Part D coverage to their existing plan. While these changes may have a procedural impact on seniors, everybody who wants to make changes to their Medicare Advantage plans should still be able to do so within the first enrollment period, beginning November 15th.