October 15, 2016 is the first day of Medicare Annual Enrollment. Annual Enrollment is the time for people who are already on Medicare who want to make a change their current health/drug coverage to elect different coverage to be effective 1/1/2017.
People who are on a Medicare Advantage/HMO plan or a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan should review their 2017 benefits (provided by their current carrier in September, 2016) to see what changes, if any, will be in effect for next year.
Medicare supplement/medigap policies do not change – the plan benefits are defined by Medicare and do not change from year to year, but the premium can change due to age and/or a rate increase by the insurance provider. However, if someone is considering changing from a medigap policy and stand-alone drug plan to a Medicare Advantage/HMO plan, Medicare Annual Enrollment is when they can request the change which will be effective 1/1/2017.
If an individual, upon turning Medicare eligible, started with a Medicare supplement/medigap policy, and for the 1st time since being on Medicare decided to try a Medicare Advantage plan for 1 calendar year (i.e., for 2017), but during the subsequent Annual Enrollment decided they wanted to go back onto the Medicare supplement/medigap plan they were on in 2015 next year, then they have a guaranteed issue for that enrollment to be effective 1/1/2017. By enrolling during Annual Enrollment onto a stand-alone drug plan, their current Medicare Advantage/HMO will be termed for 2017, allowing for the enrollment onto the stand-alone drug plan and then the processing of the return to their previous Medicare supplement/medigap policy effective 1/1/2017. This special election can only happen one time.