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What is the Medicare Annual Election Period?

When it comes to signing up for Medicare, there are lots of different enrollment periods. Each one allows for different people to enroll in different types of Medicare coverage. It is important to understand each of the different Medicare enrollment periods so you know when you should sign up. For more information on all the different enrollment periods, check out our blog post on that topic. In this blog post, we’ll be discussing the Annual Election Period and what it allows for. 

The acronym AEP generally stands for Annual Election Period. However, the Annual Election Period goes by several different names. Among these are: Annual Enrollment Period, Annual Coordinated Election Period, Open Enrollment Period and Fall Open Enrollment season.  If you ever see any of these phrases being used or hear anyone use these phrases, they are referring to AEP. Behind “Annual Election Period”, the phrase “Open Enrollment Period” is likely the most common one you will see. When it comes to Medicare, understanding all the different terms and phrases is important. Without this prior knowledge, it can definitely be confusing to figure out what someone is talking about. 

When is the

Medicare EAP period?

The AEP lasts from October 15 to December 7 each year. During this timeframe, Medicare recipients are able to add, change or drop parts of the Medicare plans for the next year. Only Medicare Part D coverage and Medicare Advantage plans can be adjusted during the Annual Election Period. After this enrollment period ends, there are few opportunities to make changes to these types of coverage, so you may have to wait for the next Annual Election Period. If you make changes to your Medicare plan during the AEP, the changes will go into effect beginning January 1 of the new year. 

What can I do during the Medicare AEP?

What can I do during Medicare AEP 

There are lots of things you can do during the Annual Election Period in order to customize your Medicare plan to fit your needs. If you are wanting to make changes to your Medicare plan, you will most likely make those changes during the Annual Election Period. If you want to switch from an Original Medicare plan to a Medicare Advantage Plan (also known as Medicare Part C) or vice versa, you will be able to do so during AEP. A Medicare Advantage plan provides the same amount of coverage as Original Medicare, but may include added benefits like vision, dental and hearing coverage. If you are looking for coverage in any of those areas, a Medicare Advantage plan may be right for you. During the Annual Election Period, you can switch to a Medicare Advantage plan. You are able to switch to a different Medicare Advantage Plan as well. Because Medicare Advantage plans are separate from Original Medicare, each plan can be different in the amount of coverage it offers or in the price point at which it comes. 

You may also enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or make changes to or drop your existing Part D coverage. Medicare Part D provides coverage for prescription drugs that you may otherwise have to pay full price. This may be necessary for you if you are prescribed a lot of different medications. Especially if they are brand names and are more expensive. Having Medicare coverage can help you save money on them. There are lots of changes that can be made in order to tailor your Medicare coverage to your needs. If you think you need to make changes, such as adding or removing certain coverage, speak to a professional about the Annual Election Period. 

Changing your Medicare Plan after the AEP: 

Changing your Medicare Plan after the AEP

In general, the Annual Election Period is your best opportunity to make changes to your Medicare coverage. It is the easiest way to make changes to both your Medicare Advantage plan and your Medicare Prescription Drug plan at the same time. However, there are a few exceptions for which certain individuals may qualify.

Changes during Medicare Open Enrollment Period

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA-OEP) is one of those exceptions. This enrollment period allows you to make a one-time change to your Medicare Advantage plan. The MA-OEP lasts from January 1 to March 31 each year, with changes in coverage taking effect at the beginning of the month after you make changes. This enrollment period, however, does not allow for changes to be made to your Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. 

Changes during Medicare Special Enrollment Period

You may also be allowed to make changes to your Medicare plan during a Special Enrollment Period in extenuating circumstances. If you have recently moved out of your plan’s coverage area or if you moved into a long-term care hospital or nursing home, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Furthermore, if you receive both Medicare and Medicaid coverage or qualify for Extra Help (Low income subsidy), you may also qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. There are a lot of different reasons for why you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. However, not everyone is eligible for an SEP. The Annual Election Period is open for all beneficiaries to make changes to their Medicare Advantage plan or their Medicare Part D plan. Click to learn more about Special Enrollment Periods, or speak to your doctor to find out if you qualify for one. 

It is important to know that you may receive late penalty fees if you don’t enroll in Medicare Part D when you are first eligible. Speak to a Medicare expert to see when you should enroll in certain parts of Medicare. Each beneficiary has different circumstances that may call for different solutions. 

Medicare AEP and Changes

The Annual Election Period is important to a lot of Medicare beneficiaries for many different reasons. Because no two people have the same needs from their Medicare plan, it makes the Annual Enrollment Period a vital time for individuals to adjust and make changes to their coverage. You may realize that your plan is not quite designed to meet your needs. If you are interested in making changes to your Medicare plan, you can do so as soon as October 15, so start planning out your adjustments! You don’t want to miss out on this annual opportunity. 

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