The Annual Election Period (AEP), or Medicare Enrollment Period, as it sometimes called, is the period of time during which some changes can be made to your Medicare plan coverages. There are many misconceptions about this period and what changes you can make during it. It is important to understand how this period works and exactly what steps you need to take during this period to ensure continued quality Medicare plan coverage.
Original Medicare – Parts A & B
If you are already on Medicare Parts A & B, you do NOT need to do anything during this period to continue to have Medicare coverage. If, however, you do not have Medicare Part B yet, you can sign up at this time for it to take effect on 1/1/13. This is useful if you are leaving, or losing, employer group coverage.
Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D is probably the most important thing to understand, as it relates to the Medicare enrollment period. This is the only time of year that you can change your Part D prescription drug plan. Part D plans do change each year, so it is essential to know how your plan is changing and make sure it is still the most advisable choice for you. You will receive a plan notice of change around October 1 – this will detail how your plan is changing for the next year. Often, plan premiums, deductibles, co-pays, tier structures, etc. will all change on a plan from year to year. You can compare all of the plan options to make sure yours is still the best for your current needs by using an independent brokerage (like Medicare-Supplement.us!) or by going to the Medicare website (www.medicare.gov). Either way will allow you to choose a plan based on your current medication needs.
Medicare Supplements (Medigap)
Contrary to popular misconception, you can actually change Medigap plans at any time of the year. The end of year period is a good time to do it, particularly if your plan rates have changed during the year. However, you can do it at any time. You can enroll in, disenroll from, or change your plan to another option. Because these plans are Federally-standardized, coverage is the same with every plan. For example, a Plan F with one company is the exact same as a Plan F with another company. So, if you can find a lower-priced option for the plan you have, and are able to change, switching plans is a wise thing to do to reduce your premium costs.
Medicare Advantage is the type of plan that replaces Medicare – basically, it is a privatized version of Medicare. The Annual Election Period (October 15-December 7) is the only time of year that you can make changes to this plan (unless you fall in a special election period circumstance – i.e. losing other coverage, moving out of your plan’s area, etc.). So, if this is the type of plan you have chosen, it is wise to make any changes to it at this time. You can compare the other options and make changes as necessary.
If you have any questions about the Medicare enrollment period, please contact us at Medicare-Supplement.US or call us at 877.506.3378. Medicare-Supplement.US is an independent Medicare insurance brokerage that can assist you with comparing the plan options and choosing a suitable plan.