The Medicare Open Enrollment Period or Annual Election Period runs each year from October 15 to December 7. During this period, Medicare enrollees can make changes to their current Medicare plan to best suit their needs for the upcoming year. Medicare beneficiaries can: elect to enroll in a new Medicare Advantage Plan (MAP); switch to or from a MAP and original Medicare; change or enroll in Part D prescription drug coverage; or opt out of Part D coverage altogether.
Changes made during this open enrollment period can have a significant impact on primary payers and their conditional lien recovery efforts. Because a beneficiaries’ Medicare plan coverage can change from year to year, primary payers may have multiple lienholders asserting recovery rights on one claim. Failure to identify these lienholders can lead to potential exposure down the road.
It is important to have a formal policy and procedure in place for MAP lien recovery in addition to traditional Medicare Part A and B lien resolution. Decide when and how MAP liens will be addressed in the claims process and who will be responsible for obtaining lien information. Once this step has been taken, it is important to create clear policies and procedures that reflect these internal decisions.
Because MAP lien enrollment can change from year to year, identifying potential lienholders can be a challenge. Unlike traditional Medicare, there is no central lien recovery portal to identify MAPs and lien amounts. As such, it is important to consider other ways to obtain this information. Utilizing the discovery process through well-crafted interrogatories to address MAP enrollments and production of documents requests to obtain copies of Medicare card(s) is one way. If the case is not in litigation, claims questionnaires can be crafted to request this information and documentation. A review of medical bills can also identify various lienholders.
Further, drafting appropriate settlement language identifying all lienholders and how liens will be satisfied is also an important part of managing potential lien recovery risks. Although Medicare is not bound by the parties’ settlement language, the settlement does bind the parties. Clear language in the settlement over this issue also can avoid confusion between the parties as to who is negotiating or reimbursing the payments.
In sum, Medicare Open Enrollment time is a good time to review internal policies on lien resolution. It is also a reminder to update claims files with any changes to Medicare/MAP enrollment that may be taking place as of January 1.
For further questions regarding the above or for help in your lien recovery needs, please contact the NuQuest Legal Team.