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2 Key Steps for Open & General Enrollment for Expat Seniors

By February 11, 2022February 15th, 2022Enrollment
2 Key Steps for Open & General Enrollment for Expat Seniors

Medicare General Enrollment Period: January 1st -March 31st

Open Enrollment is from January 1st to March 31st every year, and it is an odd enrollment period – even by Medicare standards. During Open Enrollment Period (OEP) people can:

  1. Switch Medicare Advantage Plans with no penalty,
  2. Drop Medicare Advantage plan coverage and return to Original Medicare, and/or
  3. Add a standalone Part D drug plan if you drop Medicare Advantage coverage.

The same period is also General Enrollment for people who have not yet signed up for Part B. General Enrollment allows people who have elected not to participate in Part B to sign up, and subsequently select a Medicare Advantage Plan if they would like from April 1st -June 30th, with an effective date of July 1st.

First – if you do not have Part B – get it!

I can’t tell you how many people aged 65-70 tell me that they don’t need Part B – they are healthy and plan to stay offshore forever. And I also can’t tell you how many people that I talk with who are 70+ and are trying to figure out how to get Medicare Advantage, because they need care and want to go home to get it. Part B has a 10% penalty for each 12 month period that eligible Seniors do not elect to participate.

Part B has a 10% penalty for each 12 month period that eligible Seniors do not elect to participate.

This penalty is permanent, increases with cost increases in Part B (almost 15% last year), and can be ruinous later in life – when folk’s financial resources are weakest. If you don’t have Part B and want a sobering look at what it will cost later if you don’t participate now, check out our most recent blog on the subject. I get too many calls from people looking for a great Advantage Plan to support their time outside the US, only to bring it to an abrupt end when I ask about Part B.

Please, please get Part B. If you missed your Initial Enrollment Period, you have until March 31st – and if you don’t the door closes until 2023.

Second – if you have an Advantage Plan and haven’t comparison shopped for a few years – give us a call.

We are in the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) when you can switch policies with no penalties or hassles. We have access to great analytics for Plans all over the US. I would estimate that for 60% of the people that we talk to, they end up not switching. But all Advantage Plans are not created equal when it comes to coverage outside the US – called worldwide coverage. Some Advantage Plans do not have any worldwide coverage at all, and the terms of the coverage that exists can vary widely.

Take a minute to look at your policy and make sure that you are getting the best coverage available – then go have fun. We are happy to check it out for you – give us a call. If you do not use us, make sure that you speak with someone that understands the nuances of worldwide coverage – but please speak to someone before the end of OEP. The consult should be free, and don’t change policies without a good reason, but don’t let OEP go by without taking a look at what you have.

Need help navigating the Medicare maze and exploring options?

Get in touch. We can help.

Wes Chapman

Wes Chapman was educated in Mexico and Spain, then had a 20-year career in investment banking in Latin America, finishing with 10 years as region director for Oppenheimer in Latin America. He spent the last 20 years in healthcare, focused on patient-centric, value-based care. He started Fortende to address the unmet needs of Medicare beneficiaries spending time outside the U.S.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Carol Doubek says:

    Are we able to get Medicare coverage in Baja? If so, what are the Mexican requirements?

    • Carol, There are no requirements by Mexican Authorities. Coverage is through certain Advantage Plans or Supplements. I’ll send you an email from Fortende Health and I am available by phone.

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