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Medicare Annual Enrollment Period Important Dates and Timeline

aep-important-dates

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP*) is an important time of year for Medicare beneficiaries, and missing it can leave individuals stuck in plans that don’t suit them, without the healthcare coverage they want for the upcoming year.

At easyMedicare.com, we want everyone to have the coverage that best fits their needs, so here is an overview of the most important dates related to AEP.

*This enrollment period is also sometimes called Medicare Open Enrollment

Beginning of the year: Mark your calendar

The best way to make sure that you don’t miss AEP is to mark it on your calendar. We recommend doing this at the beginning of every year, like you might mark birthdays, anniversaries, and vacations. The first day of AEP is October 15th and the last day is December 7th. If you did not have a chance to mark your calendar at the beginning of the year, the next best time is right now.

Throughout the year: Make a list of wishes/complaints

Do you think about your healthcare coverage throughout the year? If you’re like most people, you probably do. You wish your plan covered this cost or helped out with that. You may want different doctors, or feel like you’re paying too much for a prescription. You might hear about a benefit someone else has and wish your plan offered that. Find a notebook and keep a list of wishes and/or complaints about your healthcare plan.

That list will be useful when AEP arrives and you begin evaluating plans.

September: Receive and review Annual Notice of Change

If you are enrolled in a Medicare plan other than just Original Medicare, your plan provider is required to send you a notice of all the changes in your plan for the next year. This letter is sent in September, so you will have time to review the changes before AEP.

October 1-15: Prepare for AEP

You can take several steps to prepare for AEP before it begins:

  • Make a list of your physicians
  • Make a list of your prescription drugs
  • Schedule time to research Medicare plans
  • Write down any questions you may have about certain Medicare plans

You can learn more about preparation tips for AEP here.

October 15: AEP begins

If you did not already schedule a time to research Medicare plans in your area, the start of AEP can be a good reminder to do so. Creating an appointment with yourself can be a good way to stay motivated and make sure that you don’t forget about this important decision.

Even if you are happy with your current Medicare plan, you may wish to speak with an agent and discuss the other plans available to you. You may discover that there are options with benefits or costs better suited to your needs.

November 18 - 22: Last recommended week for enrollment

The last weeks of AEP coincide with Thanksgiving and the beginning of December, which are busy times for many people. We recommend doing your final research and making any changes to your Medicare coverage the week before Thanksgiving so that you won’t have that on your to-do list during the busy holiday season.

December 1: Final week for changes

December 1st begins the final week of AEP. If you haven’t made the changes you want to your Medicare coverage at this point, we recommend acting immediately. You want to allow extra time for communication issues or complications that might arise.

December 7: AEP ends

December 7th is the final day of the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period and the last chance to make changes to your plan before the new year.

January: New coverage begins

Coverage under a new Medicare plan begins January 1st for many individuals. There is a brief Open Enrollment Period early in the year in which you may be able to make one change to your plan enrollment. You can learn more about that here.

For Assistance During AEP

At easyMedicare.com, our Medicare advocates represent a number of the top Medicare plan providers and can assist you in reviewing the plans in your area to find a best-fit option. We are available 10 AM to 9 PM ET Monday-Friday, with extended hours during AEP. Just call 1-800-991-4407 / TTY 711.