There is good news for Medicare beneficiaries in 2012. A new Special Enrollment Period was created by Medicare starting in 2012 that will allow Medicare beneficiaries to join a 5 star rated Medicare Advantage Plan or Prescription Drug Plan at any time during the year. Currently, most beneficiaries are only allowed to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan or Prescription Drug Plan during the AEP or Annual Election Period which runs from October 15 until December 7. See my post on Medicare Advantage Enrollment Dates For 2012.
The 5 Star Medicare Rating
The star rating system that Medicare uses is a comprehensive look at each of the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans. This star rating system takes a look at 53 different different topics in 9 different categories in order to establish a score for that particular plan. The sources used to gather the information for the criteria being used includes surveys being done by Medicare beneficiaries, information from clinics/providers, and general oversight done by Medicare. After all is said and done, Medicare assigns a star rating for the plan. For more information on the rating system visit www.medicare.gov.
5 Star Rating Means Special Enrollment Period
Up until now the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug plans have had little incentive to care about the rating assigned by Medicare. Unless the Medicare beneficiary did their own online research they may not know anything about the star rating of a particular plan. With this new enrollment period, plans are now likely to strive for the 5 star rating. With the 5 star rating plans will now be able to enroll beneficiaries almost all year long instead of just during the Annual Enrollment Period. This could translate into huge profits for the plans that get the rating!
Medicare Beneficiaries Will Benefit From The New Special Enrollment Period
Medicare beneficiaries will see two immediate benefits from this program.
- Plans will now strive to improve their plan in order to achieve the 5 star rating. This should translate to overall higher satisfaction
- You will now be able to join a 5 star plan throughout the year. If you find yourself in a plan that is not satisfying your needs, you can simply switch to the 5 star rated plan at any time instead of having to wait until the AEP