NEWS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2017

Deadline Looming for People Enrolled in Marketplace Plans to Enroll in Medicare without Penalty
— September 30 is Last Opportunity for Marketplace Enrollees to Apply for Medicare without Coverage and Cost Consequences—

New York, NY—The deadline to apply for the time-limited opportunity that allows some people who were—or are currently—enrolled in Affordable Care Act Marketplace plans to enroll in Medicare Part B and be relieved of any associated late enrollment penalties is September 30, 2017.

People eligible for “time-limited equitable relief,” as this opportunity is called by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS), are permitted to:

  • enroll in Medicare Part B without penalty, or
  • get their Medicare Part B late enrollment penalty eliminated or reduced if they are already enrolled in Part B but delayed enrollment because they were enrolled in a Marketplace plan, also known as a Qualified Health Plan.

“The clock is ticking for people who are enrolled in Marketplace plans but eligible for Medicare to enroll in Medicare and be relieved of life-time Part B penalties or suffer gaps in health care coverage,” said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center. “This relief opportunity has been a welcome reprieve for older adults and people with disabilities who are not familiar with Marketplace and Medicare rules and mistakenly delayed or declined Part B enrollment. But regrettably, most don’t know about it or have had difficulty obtaining it.”

The Medicare Rights Center, a national nonprofit consumer service organization, works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities

Earlier this week, the Medicare Rights Center along with over 40 other advocacy organizations and health insurers sent a letter to CMS requesting an extension of the relief opportunity through the end of 2017 or longer. The letter provides several reasons why CMS should extend the relief period, including that that it would allow for “better awareness of time-limited equitable relief within SSA and would give the agency more time to process applications.” A person must contact the Social Security Administration to request time-limited equitable relief.

People who make Part B enrollment mistakes can only enroll in Medicare during the General Enrollment Period which runs from January 1 – March 31, with coverage beginning July 1 of the same year.

Medicare Rights urged CMS to provide relief to people in Marketplace plans but eligible for Medicare because it was receiving calls on its national helpline from people facing lifetime Part B penalties and gaps in coverage due to honest enrollment mistakes. CMS announced the time-limited relief opportunity in early 2017.

“CMS did the right thing when they created the time-limited equitable relief opportunity, and now we are counting on CMS to extend it and make it possible for more people with Medicare to avail themselves of this much-needed reprieve,” said Baker.

For more information on time-limited equitable relief and how to apply, see Medicare Rights’ online resource, Medicare Interactive, and:

  • Read the Fact Sheet made available by CMS
  • Call the Medicare Rights Center’s free national helpline at 1-800-333-4114
  • Call the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) at 1-877-839-2675 or visit the shiptacenter.org
  • Contact the Social Security Administration at  1-800-772-1213, or go to www.socialsecurity.gov, or visit your local Social Security office

Press Contact: Mitchell Clark – mclark@medicarerights.org

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Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.

Available only through the Medicare Rights Center, Medicare Interactive (MI) is a free and independent online reference tool that provides easy-to-understand answers to questions posed by people with Medicare, their families and caregivers, and the professionals serving them. Find your Medicare answers at www.medicareinteractive.org.

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