Medicare Annual Enrollment
Period FAQs

Answering questions about Medicare is part of how we make Medicare easy. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).

What is Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is a yearly time period during which Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their Medicare coverage, such as adding, dropping or switching Medicare plans.

Am I eligible to participate in AEP?

If you have not yet enrolled in Medicare for the first time, you are not eligible to participate in AEP. The Annual Enrollment Period is for those who are already enrolled in Original Medicare, (with or without a Medicare Supplement plan), Medicare Advantage, Prescription Drug, or Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap).

When does AEP start? What is the deadline for Medicare enrollment?

AEP starts October 15, and the deadline for enrollment is December 7.

Do you have to sign up for Medicare annually? Do you have to change your coverage?

No. You are not required to sign up for Medicare annually or make changes during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period. It is a time for optional changes, such as enrolling in a plan that is a better fit for your health or financial needs. Plans are subject to change their coverage, benefits, costs and service area each year, and your needs may or may not be met depending on those changes.

While you are not required to sign up for a new plan or make changes to your coverage during AEP, if you think you may want to change your coverage, this is the ideal time. Enrolling in a new plan outside of the Annual enrollment Period is subject to special enrollment circumstances, and you might end up stuck with a plan that leaves you wanting more.

How will I know if I should switch to a new plan during AEP?

If you are currently enrolled in Medicare, you will receive your Annual Notice of Change letter prior to the start of the Annual Enrollment Period. You should expect to get your notice from your current Medicare carrier by September 30. This letter details:

· Changes to your benefits or coverage
· Changes to your plan’s service area or contract
· Changes to your costs

Review your Annual Notice of Change in detail before the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period begins to ensure a clear understanding of all changes to your current plan and how they will impact your health and your wallet.

What is the difference between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage?

Original Medicare: This coverage is offered by the federal government and is broken into two parts: Part A and Part B. Part A is generally premium-free and includes hospital coverage. Part B has a set monthly premium and includes most medically necessary services and equipment.

Medicare Advantage (Part C): Sometimes called Part C, Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies in contract with the federal government. These plans include the coverage provided under Medicare Parts A and B, and generally add other benefits, like vision, dental, hearing or prescription drug coverage. Some of these plans require premiums, but some have $0 premiums, copays, and deductibles. Individuals who enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan do continue to pay their Part B premiums.

Can I change my Medicare plan outside of AEP?

It’s possible. Medicare beneficiaries can almost always drop a Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap), or Prescription Drug plan, but there are limited opportunities to join those plans outside of AEP. Individuals can join a plan, or switch plans, if they meet Special Enrollment Period criteria. This includes circumstances such as moving outside a plan’s coverage area, losing coverage, and more. If you anticipate wanting to change coverage, the Annual Enrollment Period is likely the best, and most dependable, time to do so.

When can you change Medicare plans?

You can change your Medicare plan during AEP (Oct. 15 – Dec. 7) each year, once during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period from January 1 through March 31 each year (if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan), and at any point during the year if you are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period because of losing your Medicare coverage for some reason.

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Enrollment Eligibility

Medicare Annual Enrollment Period runs each year from October 15 to December 7. What is the Annual Enrollment Period vs. Open Enrollment Period?

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