MA-OEP is back!

Medicare cost-sharing

Charlie Ferrell, National Sales Manager

About the Author: Charlie started his senior insurance career after a brief 30-year stint in the restaurant industry. In the 12 years since then, he has been blazing trails and setting standards for excellence all over! A native of Utah, he has been a state manager for RBI as well as an MGA for UHC, Coventry, Molina and other carriers! Charlie came to RBI as the National Sales Manager in 2015, and has been dubbed the “Medicare Encyclopedia” our staff and agents alike. Charlie specializes in the Dual-Eligible market and is leading the charge behind many of RBI’s new training initiatives!

MA-OEP is Back!

Beginning this year the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have given Medicare Advantage (MA) beneficiaries an additional enrollment period called the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA-OEP.)

What this means for Beneficiaries

Each year, starting on January 1st, Medicare Advantage members will be able to make a one time plan change through March 31st of each year.

Agents that have been around for a while remember that the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) was critical for people who failed to change plans during the Annual Election Period or those who made the wrong choice and only realized it when they tried to use their plan in January. This new enrollment period helps protect beneficiaries who may only look at how their co-insurance and co-pays are changing, but may not realize that their doctor will no longer be accepting the Insurance/Plan they haveIt also gives us another three months of selling to increase our customer base.

It’s in your and your Client’s best interest

For new agents who have yet to experience an OEP, you might be scared that all your your new clients could leave and all of your commissions would be charged back and … you would be right! This puts more burden on you the agent to put them in the correct plan in the first place, which is a good thing if you ask me! Make sure you call your clients the first week in January and find out if their plan is working correctly for them. OEP gives you a chance to correct plans if you find out that your client’s doctors are no longer in network after the first of the year. It also allows YOU to market yourself and gain new clients from those agents that are not returning phone calls or following up on their clients needs.

How does OEP protect your business?

It never fails that I have someone call me after December 7th saying they want to sign up for the plan now and I have to tell them “It’s too late, you are locked into your current plan until the end of next year unless you move out of the county.” Even worse is the client that calls me in January looking for my help and another agent put them on a different plan just to make a commission. I have had it happen. An agent “stopped by” just to go over her Medicare even though she told them she had an agent and was already signed up. Next thing you know they are on a different plan and I can’t help them. OEP gives you the chance to keep that business and allows you inoculate your clients from agents that want to poach your business. It forces you to do your job… or someone else will do it for you!

21st Century Cures Act

The 21st Century Cures Act allows all Medicare beneficiaries one change during OEP. The law also prohibits carriers from advertising to consumers to utilize the OEP to change plans. It’s up to us to educate our clients and potential clients of the upcoming changes. If you have a penchant for reading ridiculously long and boring Congressional Statutes, then you can read about this new law in its entirety right here!

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