The Medicare fall open enrollment period is from October 15 through December 7. This is the time when people on Medicare can change their Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage for 2014. Employers that sponsor a group health plan that includes prescription drug coverage are required to notify all Medicare-eligible individuals whether the coverage is creditable. This means that the coverage is expected to pay, on average, as much as the standard Medicare prescription drug coverage.

Medicare beneficiaries who have other sources of drug coverage, such as through an employer, may stay on that plan and choose not to enroll in the Medicare drug plan if their other coverage is at least as good as the new Medicare drug benefit (therefore, creditable coverage). The beneficiary can continue to get the high-quality care they have now and will not be subject to higher payments if they sign up later for the Medicare drug benefit.

What does the employer need to do?

The employer is required to provide the Medicare eligible employees with a written disclosure prior to October 15 to let them know if the prescription drug coverage on the group plan is creditable. The notices can be found at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid at www.cms.gov. The employer also is required to complete an online disclosure to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to report the creditable coverage status of their prescription drug plans. This is required annually no later than 60 days from the beginning of the plan year.