Preparing for Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period

Preparing for Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period

Like other health insurance plans, Medicare offers a yearly enrollment period that allows for people to enroll in new plans or make changes to their existing coverage. Whether you’re new to Medicare or have had a plan for years, this Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is an important time when it comes to your coverage. Read on for answers to some common AEP questions and guidance on how to navigate AEP yourself.

When is AEP?

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period runs from October 15th through December 7th each year. Sometimes AEP gets confused with Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period (OEP) that runs January 1st through March 31st each year, which allows only Medicare Advantage plan enrollees the opportunity to change to a different Medicare Advantage plan or go back to Original Medicare and enroll in a stand-alone Part D plan. 

What changes can I make during AEP?

AEP is specifically designed to allow for Medicare enrollees to add coverage or make certain changes to their coverage. During AEP you can make changes to, or enroll in, a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) or a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D). Any changes made during AEP are effective January 1st of the upcoming year.

If you have a Medicare supplement plan (Medigap), you may be able to make changes around your birthday – though this varies by state. This is referred to as “the birthday rule” and you can switch to any other Medicare Supplement plan with equal or lesser benefits guaranteed. The birthday rule only applies in a handful of states so be sure to know your specific state’s rules before counting on this option.

What do I need to know about AEP?

While AEP happens every year, it is the one chance each year (outside of special circumstances or newly becoming eligible for Medicare) to enroll in or make plan changes for these types of plans so it’s important to plan ahead.

Medicare Advantage and Part D plans send an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) to current members in late September. The ANOC gives a summary of any changes in the plan’s costs and coverage that will take effect January 1st of the next year. 

What do I need to do during AEP?

If you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Part D Prescription Drug Plan, it is important to review your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) that is mailed to you by your plan in late September to understand what changes your plan will have for the upcoming year. Premiums and coverage often do change annually. If you are happy with your current Medicare insurance plan, and any impending coverage changes for the upcoming year, no action is necessary. Your plan will automatically renew as long as you pay your premium. 

If you are enrolled in Original Medicare (with or without a Medicare Supplement plan) and thinking about changing to a Medicare Advantage plan, AEP is the time to review the options and make a change if you decide. 

If your coverage, personal situation and/or preferences have changed, please reach out to your trusted Medicare advisor who can help you navigate the re-evaluation process, make a recommendation and help you get enrolled in the new plan if you decide. At BoomerBaby, we offer this service to all of our clients and potential clients.

Where can I find my current coverage?

Each Medicare Advantage and Part D Prescription Drug plan will send out an annual notice of change (ANOC) in late September, prior to AEP. This notice gives an overview of your coverage as well as a summary of any changes in the plan’s costs and coverage that will take effect January 1st of the next year.

The ANOC is typically mailed with the plan’s Evidence of Coverage (EOC), which is a more comprehensive document outlining the plan’s costs, benefits and rules. If you do not receive an ANOC, you should contact your plan to ensure you receive this important information.

Do I have to make changes during AEP?

You do not! If you are happy with your stand-alone Part D Prescription Drug Plan or Medicare Advantage Plan coverage, and it will not have significant changes that impact you in the upcoming plan year, then no action is needed. Your plan will automatically renew if you continue to pay your premiums.

No matter what type of Medicare plan you have, it can be a good idea to re-evaluate your coverage from time to time because coverage, rates, products, and your needs can change. AEP is the perfect time to review your coverage and make sure everything is still working as you need it to. Have questions? Reach out to BoomerBaby for answers.