When can you enroll in a dual health plan if you have Medicaid and Medicare?

So, once you’ve figured out you’re eligible for a dual health plan, what’s next? When can you enroll? The answer may depend on your specific situation. Below is what you need to know to be able to tell when you can enroll or switch to a dual health plan.

You may not have to wait.

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) happens once a year in the fall. That’s when anyone who’s eligible [for Medicare] can change their health plan. But if you qualify for a Dual Special Needs Plan [DSNP], you may not have to wait. You may be able to enroll right away.

You may be eligible to enroll today if you:

  • Are 65 and newly eligible for Medicare or have a qualifying disability.
  • Are retiring and losing your current coverage.
  • Have moved out of your current Medicare plan’s service area.
  • Have a chronic condition like diabetes or chronic heart failure.
  • Receive Medicaid benefits.

What if you already have both Medicare and Medicaid?

You can enroll or switch dual plans once per Special Enrollment Period (SEP) or during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). After you’re enrolled in a dual health plan you don’t have to renew. As long as you stay eligible, your dual health plan will renew automatically each year. But you do need to recertify for Medicaid every year to stay qualified for a dual health plan.

When will your coverage start?

That depends on when you enroll in a dual health plan.

If You Enroll: Your Coverage Begins:
When you first become eligible The first day of the month you qualify for Medicare
In a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) The first day of the next month 
In the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) The first day of the next year
  Note: if your SEP also happens to be during AEP, your coverage will begin the first day of the next month.

Enroll as early as you can.

The sooner you enroll, the sooner you can enjoy all the extra benefits that come with a dual health plan.

Key dates to get ready for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period:

Key Date  Description
October 1 Start looking for dual health plans available where you live. 
October 15 First day of AEP, when you can enroll or switch to a dual health plan for the next calendar year.
December 7 Last day you can enroll in a plan before AEP ends.
January 1 The day your new plan becomes active if you enroll during AEP.

See UnitedHealthcare plans in your area.

Please note that the specific benefits dual health plans include can change depending on where you live. Search by your ZIP code to find the right plan to meet your health care needs. 

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