Medicare Enrollment Deadline Extended with Restrictions

Federal officials have announced that the Medicare enrollment deadline, which is set to expire today, has been extended through Dec. 10 due to a jump in last-minute sign-ups. However, the officials caution that seniors may only qualify for the extension if they take important steps before the close of business today.

Medicare Enrollment Deadline Extended for Seniors

To keep up with a sudden increase in last-minute sign-ups, federal officials have decided to issue a three-day Medicare enrollment extension. They say this will give recipients an opportunity to switch coverage options within the private health insurance plan if they so choose.

However, there is a catch to the extension. Officials say the only way seniors will be able to take advantage of this “increased flexibility” is if they contact one of several sources of assistance on or before the close of business today.

Among the sources seniors can contact to extend their enrollment deadline are:

  • State Health Insurance Information Program (SHIP)
  • Medicare Rights Center
  • The National Council on Aging
  • Local agencies on aging

Also, seniors can call Medicare’s toll-free information line at 1-800-633-4227 for assistance.

Officials say seniors can leave messages with their agency of choice if they don’t reach a counselor directly. Then, starting on Thursday, counselors will return the calls and help seniors receive the assistance they need. All “call-back enrollments” will have to be completed before 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

Why Utilizing Medicare Open Enrollment Saves Money

A recent study conducted by Harris Interactive for Longevity Alliance found that while 92 percent of Medicare beneficiaries knew that medicare open enrollment ended on Dec. 7, considerably earlier than last year’s Dec. 31 deadline, a whopping 78 percent chose to pass on new medicare health plans.

Many beneficiaries choose not to switch plans because they’re comfortable with the coverage they have or don’t want to take the extra steps necessary to look for new coverage options. According to the study, however, not doing so is a mistake, because beneficiaries miss out on the potential for saving hundreds of dollars in health care costs next year.

If you have not considered looking at new Medicare coverage options, the Medicare enrollment deadline extension offers a good opportunity to change your mind. Contact a Medicare resource today to find out how you could save money on your 2012 health care.