42 U.S.C. 1395w-21 - Eligibility, election, and enrollment

Cite as:42 U.S.C. 1395w-21
Currency:Current through P.L. 116-135 (03/26/2020)

(a) Choice of medicare benefits through Medicare+Choice plans

(1) In general

Subject to the provisions of this section, each Medicare+Choice eligible individual (as defined in paragraph (3)) is entitled to elect to receive benefits (other than qualified prescription drug benefits) under this subchapter-

(A) through the original medicare fee-for-service program under parts A and B, or

(B) through enrollment in a Medicare+Choice plan under this part,

and may elect qualified prescription drug coverage in accordance with section 1395w-101 of this title.

(2) Types of Medicare+Choice plans that may be available

A Medicare+Choice plan may be any of the following types of plans of health insurance:

(A) Coordinated care plans (including regional plans)

(i) In general

Coordinated care plans which provide health care services, including but not limited to health maintenance organization plans (with or without point of service options), plans offered by provider-sponsored organizations (as defined in section 1395w-25(d) of this title), and regional or local preferred provider organization plans (including MA regional plans).

(ii) Specialized MA plans for special needs individuals

Specialized MA plans for special needs individuals (as defined in section 1395w-28(b)(6) of this title) may be any type of coordinated care plan.

(B) Combination of MSA plan and contributions to Medicare+Choice MSA

An MSA plan, as defined in section 1395w-28(b)(3) of this title, and a contribution into a Medicare+Choice medical savings account (MSA).

(C) Private fee-for-service plans

A Medicare+Choice private fee-for-service plan, as defined in section 1395w-28(b)(2) of this title.

(3) Medicare+Choice eligible individual

In this subchapter, the term "Medicare+Choice eligible individual" means an individual who is entitled to benefits under part A and enrolled under part B.

(b) Special rules

(1) Residence requirement

(A) In general

Except as the Secretary may otherwise provide and except as provided in subparagraph (C), an individual is eligible to elect a Medicare+Choice plan offered by a Medicare+Choice organization only if the plan serves the geographic area in which the individual resides.

(B) Continuation of enrollment permitted

Pursuant to rules specified by the Secretary, the Secretary shall provide that an MA local plan may offer to all individuals residing in a geographic area the option to continue enrollment in the plan, notwithstanding that the individual no longer resides in the service area of the plan, so long as the plan provides that individuals exercising this option have, as part of the benefits under the original medicare fee-for-service program option, reasonable access within that geographic area to the full range of basic benefits, subject to reasonable cost sharing liability in obtaining such benefits.

(C) Continuation of enrollment permitted where service changed

Notwithstanding subparagraph (A) and in addition to subparagraph (B), if a Medicare+Choice organization eliminates from its service area a Medicare+Choice payment area that was previously within its service area, the organization may elect to offer individuals residing in all or portions of the affected area who would otherwise be ineligible to continue enrollment the option to continue enrollment in an MA local plan it offers so long as-

(i) the enrollee agrees to receive the full range of basic benefits (excluding emergency and urgently needed care) exclusively at facilities designated by the organization within the plan service area; and

(ii) there is no other Medicare+Choice plan offered in the area in which the enrollee resides at the time of the organization's election.

(2) Special rule for certain individuals covered under FEHBP or eligible for veterans or military health benefits


An individual who is enrolled in a health benefit plan under chapter 89 of title 5 is not eligible to enroll in an MSA plan until such time as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget certifies to the Secretary that the Office of Personnel Management has adopted policies which will ensure that the enrollment of such individuals in such plans will not result in increased expenditures for the Federal Government for health benefit plans under such chapter.

(B) VA and DOD

The Secretary may apply rules similar to the rules described in subparagraph (A) in the case of individuals who are eligible for health care benefits under chapter 55 of title 10 or under chapter 17 of title 38.

(3) Limitation on eligibility of qualified medicare beneficiaries and other medicaid beneficiaries to enroll in an MSA plan

An individual who is a qualified medicare beneficiary (as defined in section 1396d(p)(1) of this title), a qualified disabled and working individual (described in section 1396d(s) of this title), an individual described in section 1396a(a)(10)(E)(iii) of this title, or otherwise entitled to medicare cost-sharing under a State plan under subchapter XIX is not eligible to enroll in an MSA plan.

(4) Coverage under MSA plans

(A) In general

Under rules established by the Secretary, an individual is not eligible to enroll (or continue enrollment) in an MSA plan for a year unless the individual provides assurances satisfactory to the Secretary that the individual will reside in the United States for at least 183 days during the year.

(B) Evaluation

The Secretary shall regularly evaluate the impact of permitting enrollment in MSA plans under this part on selection (including adverse selection), use of preventive care, access to care, and the financial status of the Trust Funds under this subchapter.

(C) Reports

The Secretary shall submit to Congress periodic reports on the numbers of individuals enrolled in such plans and on the evaluation being conducted under subparagraph (B).

(c) Process for exercising choice

(1) In general

The Secretary shall establish a process through which elections described in subsection (a) are made and changed, including the form and manner in which such elections are made and changed. Subject to paragraph (4), such elections shall be made or changed only during coverage election periods specified under subsection (e) and shall become effective as provided in subsection (f).

(2) Coordination through Medicare+Choice organizations

(A) Enrollment

Such process shall permit an individual who wishes to elect a Medicare+Choice plan offered by a Medicare+Choice organization to make such election through the filing of an appropriate election form with the organization.

(B) Disenrollment

Such process shall permit an individual, who has elected a Medicare+Choice plan offered by a Medicare+Choice organization and who wishes to terminate such election, to terminate such election through the filing of an appropriate election form with the organization.

(3) Default

(A) Initial election

(i) In general

Subject to clause (ii), an individual who fails to make an election during an initial election period under subsection (e)(1) is deemed to have chosen the original medicare fee-for-service program option.

(ii) Seamless continuation of coverage

The Secretary may establish procedures under which an individual who is enrolled in a health plan (other than Medicare+Choice plan) offered by a Medicare+Choice organization at the time of the initial election period and who fails to elect to receive coverage other than through the organization is deemed to have elected the Medicare+Choice plan offered by the organization (or, if the organization offers more than one such plan, such plan or plans as the Secretary identifies under such procedures).

(B) Continuing periods

An individual who has made (or is deemed to have made) an election under this section is considered to have continued to make such election until such time as-

(i) the individual changes the election under this section, or

(ii) the Medicare+Choice plan with respect to which such election is in effect is discontinued or, subject to subsection (b)(1)(B), no longer serves the area in which the individual resides.

(4) Deemed enrollment relating to converted reasonable cost reimbursement contracts

(A) In general

On the first day of the annual, coordinated election period under subsection (e)(3) for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2017, an MA eligible individual described in clause (i) or (ii) of subparagraph (B) is deemed, unless the individual elects otherwise, to have elected to receive benefits under this subchapter through an applicable MA plan (and shall be enrolled in such plan) beginning with such plan year, if-

(i) the individual is enrolled in a reasonable cost reimbursement contract under section 1395mm(h) of this title in the previous plan year;

(ii) such reasonable cost reimbursement contract was extended or renewed for the last reasonable cost reimbursement contract year of the contract (as described in subclause (I) of section 1395mm(h)(5)(C)(iv) of this title) pursuant to such section;

(iii) the eligible organization that is offering such reasonable cost reimbursement contract provided the notice described in subclause (III) of such section that the contract was to be converted;

(iv) the applicable MA plan-

(I) is the plan that was converted from the reasonable cost reimbursement contract described in clause (iii);

(II) is offered by the same entity (or an organization affiliated with such entity that has a common ownership interest of control) that entered into such contract; and

(III) is offered in the service area where the individual resides;

(v) in the case of reasonable cost reimbursement contracts that provide coverage under parts A and B (and, to the extent the Secretary determines it to be feasible, contracts that provide only part B coverage), the difference between the estimated individual costs (as determined applicable by the Secretary) for the applicable MA plan and such costs for the predecessor cost plan does not exceed a threshold established by the Secretary; and

(vi) the applicable MA plan-

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