Now that the Medicare AEP is over, are there any year-end items I need to take care of for my Medicare benefits and Medicare insurance? Does Medicare allow for a fourth-quarter carryover provision?
The Medicare Annual Election Period
The Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP) ends on December 7, and the Medicare Advantage OEP (OEP or MAOEP) doesn’t start until January 1. That gives you an excellent three-week period to wrap up the year with a bit of Medicare housekeeping. Here’s how I’d use the time before the end of the year.
All Medicare Benefits Reboot on January 1
Whether you’re on a Medicare Advantage plan, Bare-with-Medicare Original A and B with or without a Medicare Supplement, all Medicare benefits: deductibles, copays, coinsurance, and annual Maximum-Out-Of-Pocket (MOOP) totals start over at the beginning of the year.
That means it’s essential to time your doctor’s appointments, surgeries, or outpatient procedures and gets them done before December 31st. Don’t forget that your Medicare Part D Prescription Drug benefits also start over. Be sure to fill your prescriptions before the end of the year, if you can. This applies to stand-alone Medicare Part D Drug Plan cards or Part D benefits embedded within a Medicare Advantage plan.
No Fourth Quarter Carryover for Medicare Benefits
If you had health insurance through an employer, you might have enjoyed a carryover provision. It applies any amount paid in the fourth quarter of a year toward your MOOP and deductible. The provision credits your expenses towards meeting the deductible or MOOP for the following year.
I would have bad news if you liked that feature on your employer-based health insurance plan. There is no fourth-quarter “carryover” feature like some employer-based health insurance plans have. So, if you were used to getting credit for this, it’s not a “thing” in Medicare-land.
Hypothetically, you could pay a Medicare deductible on December 31 and then pay it again on January 1. So if you have a high-cost medical procedure or specialist visits to make, I’d do them before January 1, if possible, especially if you’ve already reached your MOOP or paid your deductible(s) for the year.
New Medicare ID Cards
If you switched Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans during the AEP, be on the lookout for your new ID cards arriving in the mail. Your doctor’s office will want copies of the cards on file. This will ere is no confusion to billing. You’ll also want to ensure your pharmacy has the new ID cards on file.=
Due to US Post Office cost-cutting measures, mail delivery has significantly slowed down. That means the “normal” ten (or so) days to get your new Medicare Advantage or Part D Prescription Drug Plan ID cards might stretch to two weeks or more.
If January 1st arrives and you still don’t have your ID cards, call the Medicare insurance company customer service phone number and ask them to tell you what your ID number is verbal. You’ll need any other pertinent information if you have a doctor’s appointment or have to fill a prescription before the actual ID card arrives. Remember, the best time to call any insurance company or agency is in the middle of the week, either early in the morning or after 4:00 pm. People generally get their mail between noon and 3:00 pm. and then immediately pick up the phone to call. Avoid calling on Mondays; hold times are the longest of any day of the week.
Virginia, I hope that helps! Happy Holidays!
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Author Bio Matt Feret is the author of the Prepare for Medicare book series and launched prepareformedicare.com to help people get objective answers to questions about Medicare. Matt is also the host of The Matt Feret Show. He has held leadership roles at numerous Fortune 500 Medicare health insurers in sales, marketing, operations, product development, and strategy for over two decades.