Medicare’s annual election period — the time between Nov. 15 and Dec. 31, when all Medicare Advantage health plans are open and accepting new members — is an important opportunity, especially for those who have recently lost their job or retired and need Medicare benefits.
No matter what time of year it is, however, it’s never too early to prepare. Make sure you understand who’s eligible before starting, and be thorough when enrolling clients. But be careful — under new rules issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, you must wait until after Nov. 15 to hand out enrollment forms.
Who’s eligible for what?
Eligibility is an important condition for anyone who wishes to take advantage of Medicare benefits. The Medicare Health Insurance Program is meant for people age 65 or older, some disabled people under age 65, and people with end-stage renal disease.
Eligible individuals may be enrolled in Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, or both. Medicare Part C is an advantage plan available to those with Medicare Parts A and B.
The only eligibility requirement for Part D, which covers prescription drugs, is to have Medicare coverage. This means anyone receiving Medicare benefits, whether Part A, B, or C, is eligible to apply for Medicare Part D benefits and can acquire prescription drug coverage with a Medicare-approved provider and plan.