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FAQs on Medicare Part C & D Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

Reviewed by: Selah Lee, Licensed Insurance Agent. Written by: Andrew Hall.

Key Takeaways

  • Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) runs from October 15 to December 7 every year and is not to be confused with the General Enrollment Period from January 1 to March 31.

  • Existing Medicare beneficiaries can switch, drop or add Medicare Advantage and/or Part D.

  • AEP does not apply to MedigapMedicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) are policies designed to provide coverage that Original Medicare (Parts A and B) do not. Medigap policies are purchased in addition to Original Medicare and have their own monthly premiums you'll need to pay. plans.

  • AEP is not the same as a member’s Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) for Medicare Part A and BOriginal Medicare (Parts A and B) is fee-for-service health insurance available to all Americans aged 65 and older and some individuals with disabilities. Original Medicare is provided by the federal government and is made up of two parts: Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance)..

Aging couple discusses Medicare Annual Enrollment with an advisor.

Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. It’s a critical time for Medicare beneficiaries to re-evaluate their current and future healthcare needs to ensure they’re in the right plan for the next year.

Here are the top questions most Medicare beneficiaries have around the Annual Enrollment Period, and tips to guide you from start to finish:

What is the Annual Enrollment Period?

The Annual Enrollment Period is the annual window of time when you can add or change health coverage for the upcoming calendar year. Medicare beneficiaries can use this period to re-evaluate and make changes to their Medicare Advantage (Part C) and Medicare prescription drug plans (Part D). Plans selected during AEP go into effect January 1st of the following year.

When is the Annual Enrollment Period?

Medicare AEP is from October 15 to December 7, every year.

What can I do during the Annual Enrollment Period?

  • Add or drop a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or switch from one Medicare Part D plan to another
  • Change to a Medicare Advantage plan if you previously had Original Medicare, and vice versa
  • Switch Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans

How is Annual Enrollment Period different from initial enrollment?

While AEP is an annual time to make changes to your Medicare plans for the following year, the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is for new Medicare enrollees to sign up for Parts A and/or B. An individual’s initial enrollment period is a seven month window which begins three months before they turn 65, includes the month they turn 65, and ends three months after turning 65.

How can I best prepare for Medicare AEP?

  • If you currently have a Medicare Advantage plan, review your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) letter which is mailed in September. Upcoming changes to your coverage may require you to add, drop or switch coverage during AEP.
  • Compile a list of doctors you are currently seeing/want to be able to see. If a preferred doctor is out of your network of providers, you can switch coverage to a plan that includes your preferred doctor during AEP.
  • Write down a list of all your current prescriptions. If your prescription needs change, you can switch or add Part D coverage during AEP.
  • Determine what kind of additional coverage is needed (dental, vision, hearing, etc.). Most Medicare Advantage plans include dental, vision and hearing, so it may be right for you to consider during AEP.

What if I need to change my Medicare plan outside of the Annual Enrollment Period?

You may change plans outside of AEP if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). Special Enrollment Period usually lasts 60-days, and some last 90-days, depending on your life event. You can qualify for the Special Enrollment Period if:

  • You move outside of your plan’s service area
  • You lose your current drug coverage
  • Your plan terminates or changes its contract with Medicare
  • You move into or out of a nursing home
  • You were recently released from incarceration
  • You qualify for Medicaid, Extra Help, or a state based pharmaceutical assistance program

There may be other qualifying reasons. Please reach out to Medicare or one of our representatives for more information.

How do I enroll or change a plan during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?

A GoHealth licensed insurance agent can help you understand and compare plan benefits and navigate changes during the Annual Enrollment Period. Call us today to learn next steps.

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