The Do’s and Don’ts of Medicare AEPAugust 19, 2021
Watch this brief video first!
The Medicare AEP (Annual Enrollment Period) is the time when anyone who is enrolled in Medicare can make changes to their coverage. That can mean:
- Enrolling in Medicare Advantage OR Part D for the first time
- Switching between Medicare Advantage plans
- Switching between Part D plans
- Dropping Medicare Advantage OR Part D coverage
However, the Medicare AEP only lasts from October 15 through December 7 of each year. Some people may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period and may be able to change plans outside of the AEP, but for many, this will be the only time to change plans!
What you Should do During Medicare AEP
Even if you think you have the best Medicare plan in the world, here are a few things you should definitely do during or leading up to Medicare AEP (October 15 – December 7). If you need help with this, we advise giving us a call.
1. Check Eligibility for Savings.
Apply for LIS (Extra Help) prescription drug savings program) and other Medicare Savings Programs to see if you could be saving money. If you have low income, you may even want to try applying for Medicaid! The results could influence what coverage you are eligible for this AEP.
2. Analyze your Current Medicare Coverage.
- Did you receive your ANOC (Annual Notice of Change), and is anything in your plan changing? These letters are usually sent and received every year at the beginning of September.
- What insurance do you have now?
- Do you have Original Medicare only, or do you have a private plan as well?
- Do you have enough coverage?
- Does your plan fit into your budget, or could you be saving more money?
- Are all of your doctors and prescriptions covered by your current plan?
Ask yourself these questions and take notes, because there may be something better out there.
3. Notate your Life Changes.
- Did you start seeing a new doctor this year, or do you have a problem with your current doctor? Not all plans accept the same doctors, so make sure you’re documenting your current physicians so you can easily confirm they are in network with any potential plans you’re considering for the new year.
- Did you gain or lose a job, or suddenly develop financial stress? There are multiple ways to manage your Medicare based on a budget and a licensed agent can walk you through the options you may qualify for.
- Were you diagnosed with a new health condition that requires expensive treatments? Some plans are specifically designed for certain chronic conditions.
Think about not only your past year but what you expect to happen over the next year. Think about what type of coverage you might need to get yourself through it all.
4. See What Medicare Plans are Available this Year.
Every year, new Medicare plans may come to the market, and old plans may change what they are offering. It’s important to look at the new information instead of just assuming that your old plan will stay the same. If your plan does change what they are offering, you will be notified – but it is important to look at other changes in your area as well.
Maybe there’s a great new doctor you’ve wanted to see, but she doesn’t accept your current plan! Or, maybe you suddenly have access to a plan with a five-star rating, when previously you only had access to four-star plans!
An important thing to note is that new benefits are not available to review and discuss each year until October 1st. You may need to speak with a licensed agent to ensure you’re reviewing the plans for the upcoming benefit year and not mistakenly comparing plan benefits that will ultimately be changing.
5. Schedule an Appointment with a Licensed Agent.
We know it’s nice to think that you can do it all yourself and that with the internet, you don’t need an insurance agent anymore! But, that’s not always true. The benefits of meeting with a licensed insurance agent are simple: it’s free, it’s easy, and it can’t hurt!
Our agents are licensed and represent a variety of different insurance companies, meaning they are not all biased towards one plan option.
Your plan won’t cost any more money whether you meet with an agent or not, so meeting an agent can only help you. A licensed agent can walk you through everything that is available in your local area and help you select the best option based on your needs. Plus, let us repeat – the meeting is free!
What you Should not do During AEP
We’re here to help, so we don’t want to only talk about the positives. Here are some things that you should NOT do during the Medicare AEP:
1. Don’t Jump into a new Medicare Plan Too Fast.
Do you understand how to choose a Medicare plan? Sometimes good deals are tempting, and it’s easy to jump into a shiny new plan because the costs are lower or there’s an added benefit. Make sure you’ve considered everything before you switch because it might not be easy to switch back. Make sure that your doctors work with the new plan, it covers your prescriptions, and there aren’t any hidden costs. Also, make sure the new benefit is something that will actually be useful to you!
2. Don’t Misunderstand Medigap.
Medigap, or Medicare Supplements work differently from Medicare Advantage and other types of Medicare plans. Technically, Medigap enrollment is not limited to the AEP. However, that does not mean that you should just change back and forth between different Medigap plans any time.
If you enroll in Medigap outside of your Initial Enrollment Period (when you first become eligible for and enroll in Medicare), you may be put through an underwriting process and may have higher fees based on your age and any preexisting conditions. Medicare Advantage and Part D plans do NOT take age and preexisting conditions into account, but Medigap plans if you wait too long to enroll.
3. Don’t Avoid Researching Medicare Plan Options.
If you already know the name of a carrier, you might be tempted to go straight to their website and enroll in a plan that looks good online. However, there may be more than one carrier offering plans in your area. So, how do you look at all of them easily?
Start by using a plan comparison tool, like our free Medicare Plan Finder. Then, once you’ve compared a few options, consider taking that research to a licensed agent who can talk to you about what you’re looking at and why the differences matter.
Ready for AEP?
To schedule an appointment with one of our licensed agents, call 833-438-3676 or click here. We can’t wait to help you get the coverage you deserve!