Medicare’s Annual Election Period (AEP), also known as open enrollment, happens every year from October 15th until December 7th. Here are 5 things you need to know about this Annual Election Period.

Updated on September 27th, 2016 from the May 2015 article

1) Medicare Open Enrollment is for Switching Plans

Medicare Annual Election Period Open Enrollment is the one time each year you can switch MA & Part D Drug plans without going through any medical underwriting. This means that if you don’t like your current plan you can use this time to switch to another plan and they have to accept you. You should compare the cost and coverage of your current MA plan and Part D plans to see if its the best for your needs. If you provide us with a list of your current drugs, one of our licensed agents will compare all the drug plans in your area for free. You can contact us here.

2) Open Enrollment is Different than Initial Enrollment

As stated in Tip #1, this time is for switching plans. Medicare’s initial enrollment period is when you are supposed to first sign up for Medicare and Supplemental coverage. Unless you postpone Medicare Part B, initial enrollment is usually three months before and after you turn 65. Learn more about initial enrollment here.

If you miss Medicare’s initial enrollment deadline, you can use the Annual Election Period to enroll in a Medicare Advantage (MA) or Part D drug plan.

If you want to know when your coverage will start, you can read our updated article: Medicare Part B: New Start Dates For Coverage In 2023.

3) Open Enrollment Starts October 15th

Medicare’s Annual Election Period is from October 15th thru December 7th, for a January 1st start date. If you miss this date you are stuck with the same plan as last year. Don’t say we didn’t warn you 🙂

4) Medicare Open Enrollment is Not Part of Obamacare

As if Medicare wasn’t already confusing enough, now there is one more thing to add to the noise. The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has their own “open enrollment” around the same time as Medicare Annual Election Period. The two enrollments are very different with different start and end dates. Just remember that Obamacare open enrollment is not for (most) seniors!

5) Medigap Does Not Have Open Enrollment

Many people believe that they can switch to a Medigap plan during Open Enrollment without medical review. Medigap (aka Med Supp) has a guaranteed enrollment period of 6 months, which usually begins on the first of the month you turn 65 and are first eligible for Medicare Part B. If you apply for Medigap during AEP you may be subject to medical underwriting.

Many people use open enrollment to leave Medicare Advantage and sign up for Medigap and a separate drug plan for the first time. Contact us and we can show you how this is done.

Learn More about Open Enrollment

Next Steps
Before and during Open Enrollment Medicare you’ll want to research your current health plan’s changes and compare to other health plans in your area to decide which is best suited for you. If you decide your current plan meets your needs you don’t need to do anything. If you are not happy with your plan or just want to compare what else is out there give us a call at 800-930-7956 or click here for a Medicare Advantage quote or a Prescription drug quote.