CMS suspends automatic plan renewal for Medicare beneficiaries

CMS has suspended the controversial "seamless conversion" policy in which those eligible for Medicare were automatically enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, according to North Carolina Health News.

Under seamless conversion, an insurance company could automatically enroll a beneficiary approaching age 65 in the company's Medicare Advantage plan instead of traditional Medicare. The company would notify the beneficiary in the mail — often among numerous other Medicare-related mailings — and require specific actions to opt out of the Medicare Advantage coverage, according to the report.

Critics of the seamless conversion practice argued it led to Medicare beneficiaries being unknowingly enrolled in plans that offered them less advantageous coverage than traditional Medicare, according to the report. More than 15,000 U.S. adults have been enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans using seamless conversion, according to CMS.

Instead of seamless conversion, Medicare beneficiaries will be able to re-enroll in other plans, including traditional Medicare. "If an individual wishes to select another Medicare health or drug plan, that enrollment will supersede the seamless conversion," CMS wrote in policy guidelines issued Friday, according to the report. "Individuals who wish to enroll in Original Medicare need to contact the Medicare Advantage organization prior to the Medicare advantage coverage effective date to opt-out of the proposed enrollment."

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