Iowans Affected by Medicare Advantage Plan Non-Renewals

Over 9,200 Iowans will be receiving letters this week from the Medicare Advantage plan in which they are enrolled announcing that the plan will not be offered in 2014.  Each year Medicare Advantage plans decide whether to sign a contract with Medicare.  Some plans make business decisions to leave Medicare altogether or stop offering plans in certain areas.  Plans must notify members by October 2, 2013 if they will not be renewing their contract with Medicare. 

What are your options if you receive a non-renewal letter from your plan?  You have two choices-- join a new Medicare Advantage plan or return to Original Medicare.  Your current coverage will end on December 31, 2013.  You can choose another Medicare Advantage plan or change to Original Medicare between October 15, 2013 and February 28, 2014.  Making a decision by December 31, 2013 assures you have coverage that best meets your needs January 1. You are still in the Medicare program no matter what you choose. 

The letter you receive should include a list of Medicare Advantage plans available in your area in 2014.  Call these plans to get more information about their coverage.  It’s important to check if your doctors and other medical providers accept the plans. Be sure you have prescription drug coverage which meets your needs, whatever option you choose. 

If you decide you want to return to Original Medicare, you need to consider joining a Medicare prescription drug plan.  You may pay a late enrollment penalty if you choose to join a Medicare drug plan later.  You have until February 28, 2014 to enroll in a new Medicare drug plan.  However, if you enroll after December 31, 2013 your new coverage will not start by January 1 when your Medicare Advantage coverage ends.

If you choose to return to Original Medicare, you have a guaranteed right to buy a Medicare supplement policy to help pay health care costs that Medicare does not cover.  You can buy Medicare supplement plans A, B, C, F, (including high deductible plan F) K or L from any company selling these policies in Iowa.  Individuals under age 65 must buy from companies selling to people on Medicare because of disability.  “Guaranteed right” means the insurance company must sell you a policy; must cover pre-existing conditions; and cannot charge you more because of past or present health problems.  If you leave your Medicare Advantage plan, you have 63 days from the day your coverage ends to apply for a policy.  That deadline is March 4, 2014. 

For more information call SHIIP, a service of the State of Iowa Insurance Division, at 1-800-351-4664 (TTY 1-800-735-2942).  Local SHIIP counselors are available across the state to meet with you in person to answer your questions. Call the SHIIP 800# for the site nearest you.  SHIIP services are free, confidential and objective.

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The Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), part of the State of Iowa Insurance Division, provides monthly press releases on topics of interest to the 500,000+ Iowans on Medicare.  The October press release is included in this e-mail.  You have automatically been signed up to receive our press releases through email distribution.  If you do not wish to receive Press Releases from SHIIP please use the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this email.  If you have any questions, please contact Kris Gross at (515) 242-5190 or