Thousands of Americans miss Medicare enrollment deadlines, assuming that they are already covered under insurance purchased in Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces. The consequences of that assumption run the risk of a lifetime of penalties.
In recognition of this common oversight, Medicare has temporarily changed its rules. They are offering a reprieve of penalties for late enrollees. Those 65 year of age and older who have a marketplace plan or had one lost or cancelled or if they are disabled but stayed with a marketplace plan may also qualify for the penalty waiver or reduction.
Federal health officials have set the deadline to request the waiver – officially titled “time-limited equitable relief” – for September 30.
In explaining the reason for the change in policy, a Medicare spokesman stated that far too many people did not have the necessary information to make an informed decision regarding enrollment.
After witnessing the countless, yet common mistakes that arise from confusing rules, consumer advocate groups believe that the government simply did not understand the possibility of people knowing about the need to sign up for Medicare.
Additional Medicare beneficiaries made similar mistakes. They believed that they didn’t need Medicare Part B over the mistaken assumption that their current marketplace plan coverage, Department of Veteran Affairs, or a former or current employer was a valid substitute for Part B.
Lack of good notification was only making bad situations worse with people declining or delaying Part B coverage. In response, federal and state governments are launching information campaigns.
Medicare emailed letters about the temporary waiver to those 65 and older enrolled in marketplace plans run by the federal government. California, whose 1.4 million consumers make it the largest state-run marketplace, is joining Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York with their own awareness initiatives.