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ALERT: Medicare Adopts Special Relief for Some Enrollment and Plan Choices; BUT WITH DEADLINES THIS MONTH.

ALERT: Medicare Adopts Special Relief for Some Enrollment and Plan Choices; BUT

The federal Medicare agency (CMS) recently adopted two types of special relief to help people
who wanted to make Part A and B enrollment choices, and/or switch Medicare Advantage Plans,
since March, but didn’t do so. They were adopted because of the impact of the COVID-19
emergency on both individuals and government offices.
“Equitable Relief” – applies to individuals who wanted to enroll in Part A or B (or decline Part
B) during their “Initial Eligibility Period” (IEP), “General Enrollment Period” (GEP, Jan. 1 –
March 31), or “Special Enrollment Period” (SEP)* on or after March 17, 2020, but didn’t. The
equitable relief allows them to enroll/decline now, but they must do so by June 17, 2020!
The equitable relief does apply to “Conditional” Medicare applications,** which are valuable
for low-income seniors without premium-free Part A, who would qualify for Medicaid “QMB”
“COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period” – applies to Medicare Advantage (MA) Plan
members who did not change their Plan during the January-March “Medicare Advantage Open
Enrollment period or other available SEP to do so now. They can switch to a different MA Plan,
or drop their Plan and return to Original Medicare and enroll with a Part D drug plan, but they
must do so by July 1, 2020.
How do you get the Equitable Relief? By applying for Medicare through Social Security,
preferably online (individuals applying for Premium Part A cannot apply online).
Regardless, advocates recommend that you first call Social Security,*** saying what you want
to do, because the day you call is protected as your application date.
How do you get the COVID-19 SEP relief? By enrolling with a new Plan; or disenrolling from
your current plan (to return to Original Medicare) and, if you choose to, selecting a Part D Plan.
For a more detailed discussion of this subject by a national organization, see
If you would like further information about the applicability of these types of special relief, you
are welcome to call SCLO at 265-2300.
* One important SEP provides individuals who lose employer-provided group health plan coverage with an 8-month
period during which they can enroll in Medicare without penalty.
** SCLO has a Fact Sheet on “Conditional” Medicare applications on our website, [click on
Information Center, then Health, then Medicare]
*** Social Security’s national phone number is 1-800-772-1213 (TTY, 1-800-325-0778). You can also call your
local office’s General Inquiry line. The General Inquiry numbers for the local offices that primarily serve residents
of SCLO’s service area are: Albuquerque (1-866-613-9961); Rio Rancho (1-866-530-7783); and Santa Fe (1-866-

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