The Annual Enrollment Period is the most popular time of year to make changes to your Medicare plan. Learn about eligibility, when to enroll, how to enroll, and why you should choose easyMedicare. Our goal is to make the complicated subject of Medicare as easy as possible.
What is AEP?
The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) happens once per year, running from October 15 to December 7. If you compare Medicare to the insurance marketplace, AEP is similar to “open enrollment,” and you may even find it called that in some places. In Medicare, however, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is different than marketplace “open enrollment,” and it happens from January 1 to March 31.
To participate in AEP, you must already be enrolled in a Medicare Advantage, Original Medicare, or Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plan. If you are eligible for Medicare and already enrolled in a plan, this is the time of year when you have the opportunity to change elements of your Medicare plan, including the coverage, the cost, the provider and even your pharmacy.
Many people use the Annual Enrollment Period as an opportunity to switch from an Original Medicare plan to a Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C), but there are plenty of options to choose from during this enrollment period, including:
Switch from Original Medicare (Parts A and B) to a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C)
Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
Enroll in a Prescription Drug (Part D) plan
Switch from one Part D plan to another
Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare (Parts A and B)
Before renewing or changing your current Medicare plan, it’s important to review your Medicare health and drug coverage. If you’re unsatisfied with your current plan, AEP is the time to make a change. Just remember that if you do not change your coverage during this enrollment period, you will mostly likely be stuck with that coverage until the following year.
Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans are not in scope for AEP. There is a different enrollment period for supplement plans.
Medicare Made Easy Part Five: Medicare Annual Enrollment Period
Why change your plan?
You’re not required to make changes to your Medicare plan during the Annual Enrollment Period, but it’s a good idea to look at all of your options. Your current Medicare coverage may not be meeting your health or financial needs, and AEP is the time to re-evaluate your current coverage.
- Your needs change: Your health can change in an instant. When your health takes a turn, you may need to see new physicians, take new medications, or obtain new equipment. If your new situation isn’t covered under your current Medicare coverage, it may be time to make a switch.
- Your plan changed: Plans are allowed to make changes to benefits, service areas, and costs each year. If you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or Part D Prescription Drug plan, your provider should notify you of any changes to your existing plan. You will see documentation of these changes in your Annual Notice of Change, which is sent out before AEP begins.
- You’ve had high out-of-pocket expenses: If you’re enrolled in an Original Medicare (Parts A and B) plan, you may be paying significantly more money out-of-pocket than you were expecting. Things like eyeglasses, dental visits, hearing aids, and prescription medication can add up quickly, even when you are only paying the remaining 20 percent of the total cost.
If you experience any of these situations, you will want to take advantage of the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period to find, evaluate, and enroll in a plan that better fits your needs.
Preparing for Medicare AEP
There are a few things that you can do before the Annual Enrollment Period begins in order to make the process go as smoothly as possible. After looking over your current coverage, you can prepare for the Annual Enrollment Period by:
- Reviewing your Annual Notice of Change: This document will be sent to you by the end of September and will include any/all changes to your plan’s benefits, service area, and coverage.
- Taking note of your current physicians or specialists: Having notes of all doctors you see will help your agent find you a plan whose network includes the doctors you are familiar with.
- Writing down your prescription medications: Having detailed notes of all prescription drugs you take will help your agent find a plan that offers coverage for your medication.
- Thinking about any health concerns/conditions you may have: Write down any specific health concerns or chronic conditions that you would like coverage for. This way, your agent can best assist you in finding a plan with the added coverage or benefits you need.
- Finding your Medicare card: Your Medicare card is a red, white and blue card that has a Medicare Number unique to you. This number is NOT your social security number.
When you are fully prepared for your enrollment consultation, the process will go quickly and easily.
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Last Updated: November 1, 2022 MULTIPLAN_ETQEZMwebsite_0722_M