Your Guide to the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period
You can make changes from October 15 through December 7. Make an appointment with a licensed agent before it's too late!
Annual Enrollment Period
Annual Enrollment Period
Did you know that most people can only change Medicare plans during certain times of the year? This rule is what makes the annual enrollment period (October 15th through December 7th) so important for you.
When is the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)?
The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is during the same time every year - October 15 through December 7. Selections you make during AEP will usually become effective on January 1 of the following year.
Why Change Medicare Plans During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?
You may not need to do anything during AEP. However, major insurance carriers usually change the benefits that they offer every year to improve benefits and save money. It’s possible that a change in your plan benefits or your provider network will change how you feel about your plan. It’s a good idea to speak with an agent even if you don’t think you want to change your plan. A licensed agent can tell you about all the changes to your current plan and help you decide whether or not it’s time to change Medicare plans.
Additionally, you can use Medicare annual enrollment to switch from Medicare Advantage to Medicare Supplement (Medigap) or from Medigap to Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage and Medigap are similar in some ways but far different in others.
How to Switch Plans During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period
The best way to switch plans is by speaking with an agent. A licensed Medicare Plan Finder agent can help you make sure that you don’t lose access to your favorite doctors or pharmacies and that you don’t lose any important benefits that you like. To get started, click here to request a Medicare appointment.
Choosing the right Medicare Advantage plan can seem like a daunting task. Some people will have only one or just a few options, while others may have a long list of Medicare Advantage plans that they're eligible for.
Medicare Advantage plans are different in every county and zip code, so it's important that you're looking at plans available in your area.
If you choose to enroll in a prescription drug plan (Part D or PDP) instead of a Medicare Advantage plan that includes a prescription drug benefit, the main things to pay attention to are costs and the formulary.
The formulary is the list of drugs that the plan covers. Formularies are usually divided into teirs. The first tier typically includes the cheapest drugs, and they'll get more expensive as you move through the tiers.
AEP may or may not be the only time you can change plans. Keep in mind that enrollment periods do not apply to Medicare Supplements. Once you have Original Medicare, you can enroll in Medicare Supplement plans during any time of year. Click here to start looking for Medicare Supplement plans in your area.
These are the other Medicare enrollment periods:
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
The Initial Enrollment Period is when you are first eligible for Medicare. If you age into the Medicare program, your IEP begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after. For example, if you’re birthday is March 1st, you’re initial enrollment period would be from December 1st (3 months before) through June 1st (three months after).
If you become eligible for Medicare due to receiving SSDI for 25+ months, your Initial Enrollment Period begins in your 25th month of receiving SSDI benefits.
Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
The Special Enrollment Period is a unique period that not everyone will qualify for. You can qualify if you have special circumstances such as low-income or a life change such as moving to a new county or state where different coverage is available.
If you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period based on income or health, you may be able to change plans once per quarter for the first three quarters of the year. If you qualify for an SEP based on a life change (like moving and losing coverage), you'll typically have 30 days from the life change event to change plans.
General Enrollment Period (GEP)
The General Enrollment Period runs from January 1 through March 31, and is for people who missed their IEP. During the GEP, you can enroll in Medicare for the first time. The GEP is only for enrolling in Original Medicare. If you want to add Medicare Advantage, you can do that from April 1 through June 30, or wait until the Annual Enrollment Period in the fall.
Open Enrollment Period (OEP)
The Open Enrollment Period is a new enrollment period for people who have Medicare Advantage and are unhappy with their plan. You can only make one change during this period (January 1 through March 31), and you can only make three types of changes:
Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan
Change from a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage to Original Medicare with Part D prescription drug coverage
Drop your Medicare Advantage plan in favor of Original Medicare only (with the option to add Prescription Drug Coverage)
Changing Medicare plans is a big decision. With such a limited time to make changes, the task to pick the best plan can seem daunting. That’s why we’re here. We can send a licensed agent out to your home (at no cost) to help you pick the best plan from the best carrier to fit your needs.
If you’re interested in reviewing your options, start by determining your health care needs. Do you have prescription drugs that your current plan does not cover? Have you recently developed a new illness or disability that requires different coverage? What about your financial needs? Can you suddenly afford more coverage, or do you now qualify for savings? Ask yourself these questions in early fall. We can help answer your questions so you can decide whether or not you need to change Medicare plans during AEP.
Interested? To set up your free appointment, call 1-833-438-3676.
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