TO: Issuers Offering Medicare Supplemental Insurance Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) Offering Medicare Managed Care Plans
FROM: Linda Ruthardt, Commissioner of Insurance
DATE: December 7, 2001
RE: Federally Required Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period

The purpose of this bulletin is to make sure all issuers offering Medicare Supplement insurance policies and HMOs offering Medicare managed care plans are aware that the federal Secretary of Health and Human Services has declared that the month of December 2001 is to be a Special Enrollment Period based on exceptional circumstances and carriers subject to M.G.L. c. 176K are required to participate in a required open enrollment period pursuant to 211 CMR 71.10(13)(b)2.v.
Carriers participating in the Medicare Supplement market are required to offer all enrollees in Medicare+Choice plans the right to purchase a Medicare Supplement Core or Medicare Supplement 1 policy - the Massachusetts plans equivalent to the Medigap A, B, C or F plans described in the federal notice - provided that the Medicare+Choice enrollees leave the heath plan they are currently enrolled in no later than December 31, 2001. Such Special Enrollment Period will exist for such individuals through March 4, 2002 - the 63rd day after December 31, 2001.
Please note that according to the provisions of the federal Balanced Budget Refinement Act of 1999 and Benefits Improvement and Protection Act of 2000, carriers must ensure that applicants who apply during this Special Enrollment Period are given the opportunity to make their coverage effective as of January 1, 2002 coincident with the date that the applicant has disenrolled from his or her Medicare HMO plan and returned to traditional Medicare coverage. Carriers should prepare their systems to ensure that there is a seamless transition to Medicare Supplement coverage regardless of when applications are processed. The attached document pdf format of MC_Special_EnrollmentPR01.pdf
from the federal Department of Health and Human Services describes issuer obligations under this Special Enrollment Period.
Carriers are reminded that mandatory participation in this Special Enrollment Period is in addition to compliance with all other required enrollment rights afforded to individuals pursuant to the provisions of M.G.L. c. 176K, the federal Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and other federal laws. Any questions regarding this bulletin should be directed to Kevin Beagan, Director of the Health Unit of the State Rating Bureau at the Division of Insurance, at (617) 521-7347, or faxed to (617) 521-7773.