Changes in healthcare can get a tad confusing, so it is good to know what is required and what isn't. For example, did you know there's a new law that makes selling unnecessary “marketplace” coverage to seniors on Medicare illegal?
Kaiser Health News recently addressed this concern in an article titled “Selling Marketplace Plans To Medicare Beneficiaries Will Be Illegal.”
The Problem: Medicare Part A is free for most beneficiaries and goes toward hospitalization and limited nursing home care. Since this fulfills the insurance requirements set by law, those on Medicare generally do not need any additional coverage. For 20 years or so, it has been illegal for private insurers to try and sell their plans to individuals known to be Medicare recipients. This is the result of an effort to keep insurers from taking undue advantage of folks who might not know better.
Of course, Medicare recipients are not prevented from purchasing marketplace coverage, which is part of the difficulty.
The Medicare enrollment period starts next month and runs from October 15 to December 7. Coincidentally, the first healthcare marketplaces (the “exchanges”) will also start selling online next month with the requirement for such plans to become effective as of the beginning of 2014.
Seniors need to know the difference between Medicare “enrollment” and marketplace purchasing. Unfortunately, the timing of the two is not helping matters.
Bottom line: Medicare recipients should not buy on the marketplace what they get by enrollment in Medicare. Hopefully, the legal penalties will scare off those insurance sellers who might try to make a few extra bucks selling unneeded coverage.