Medicare is a federal health insurance program that provides coverage to people who are 65 or older, as well as those with certain health conditions. Medicare is an essential part of the U.S. healthcare system and helps ensure that older adults have access to the medical care they need. The program is divided into several parts, including Part A (hospital insurance), Part B (medical insurance), Part C (Medicare Advantage plans), and Part D (prescription drug coverage). Each part provides different types of coverage, and beneficiaries have the option to choose from a variety of plans.
It's important for Medicare beneficiaries to understand the enrollment periods that are available to them, as these periods provide opportunities to make changes to their Medicare coverage. By understanding the different enrollment periods, beneficiaries can make informed decisions about their coverage and ensure that they have the right plan in place. Not all enrollment periods are the same, so you’ll need to know when you can make changes to your coverage and what changes you can make during each period.
Of all the Medicare enrollment periods, AEP and OEP are often confused. These enrollment periods are both opportunities for beneficiaries to make changes to their Medicare coverage, but who is eligible and what you can do are quite different.
AEP stands for Annual Enrollment Period, which is a time each year when Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to make changes to their existing Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans or switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan. The Annual Enrollment Period provides beneficiaries with the chance to review their current coverage and make any necessary changes to ensure they have the best plan for them in the upcoming year.
AEP runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. During this time, Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their coverage for the upcoming year, which begins on January 1.
During the Annual Enrollment Period, beneficiaries have the option to make several different types of changes to their Medicare coverage, including:
Switching from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
Changing from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
Adding or changing a Medicare prescription drug plan
Dropping a Medicare Advantage plan and returning to Original Medicare
You can choose to do nothing during AEP if you are satisfied with your current plans. However, Part C and Part D plans often change from one year to the next, so it’s best to have your coverage reviewed regardless.
OEP stands for Open Enrollment Period, which allows individuals who are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan to make a one-time change to their coverage. The Open Enrollment Period runs from January 1 to March 31 each year. If you make a change during this time frame, your new coverage will go into effect on the first day of the following month.
During the Open Enrollment Period, individuals enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan have two options. They can:
Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
Drop their Medicare Advantage plan and enroll in Original Medicare and a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan
In addition to the AEP and OEP, there are other enrollment periods for Medicare beneficiaries to consider, including:
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP): This is the time when individuals first become eligible for Medicare, and they can enroll in Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan. The Initial Enrollment Period begins three months before an individual turns 65 and continues for three months after their 65th birthday.
Special Enrollment Period (SEP): This enrollment period is available to individuals who experience certain life changes, such as moving to a new area or losing employer-sponsored insurance.
General Enrollment Period (GEP): This enrollment period runs from January 1 to March 31 (just like OEP), and is available to individuals who did not enroll in Medicare Parts A and B when they were first eligible.
It's essential to understand the various enrollment periods available to Medicare beneficiaries to ensure you have the coverage you need. By understanding the different enrollment periods, you can make informed decisions about your Medicare plans and make changes when necessary. If you would like to change your current Medicare plan, chat with one of the advisors at Local Medicare Specialists today!
Schedule a FREE Medicare plan consultation with an agent in your neighborhood.
LocalMedicareSpecialists.com is privately owned and operated by LMS Insurance LLC. LocalMedicareSpecialists.com is a non-government resource for those who depend on Medicare, providing Medicare information in a simple and straightforward way.
We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area which are United Healthcare, Aetna, Humana, Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Centene, Devoted, and Scan. Please contact Medicare.gov, 1-800-MEDICARE, or your local State Health Insurance Program to get information on all of your options.