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Learn » Medicare Advantage » When Is The Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP)?

When Is The Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP)?

You can change your Part C and Part D choices during Medicare’s “Annual Election Period” from October 15 to December 7 each year.

July 29, 2018 - By Hal Levy - read

When Medicare’s Annual Election Period rolls around, get ready to save!

Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15 through December 7, every year.

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is a great time to compare or switch certain Medicare coverage without penalty. About 1 in 5 people with Medicare Advantage change their plan during this time.

What Can You Do During the Medicare Annual Election Period (or, “Medicare Open Enrollment”)?

  • Move from one Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C) to another Advantage plan.
  • Move from one Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to a different RX drug plan.
  • Move from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B).
  • Move from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage.
  • Join or leave your Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage entirely.

Can You Move Plans Right Away? If you make a change during the Annual Election Period, it will take effect on January 1.

Is Approval Guaranteed? Yes, you can switch Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plans during AEP even if you have pre-existing medical conditions. If you switch plans at this time, you’re guaranteed to be approved. You won’t have to pay extra either; there’s no penalty to switch.

Is AEP For Everyone? Anyone can make important changes to their Medicare coverage during the 2018 or 2019 Annual Election Period.

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You don’t have to change anything during AEP, but we recommend comparing your plan to other local options.

What Does AEP Mean?

Sometimes, people call Medicare’s Annual Election Period (AEP) the “Annual Enrollment Period” or “open enrollment period”. This is because you elect, or choose, to make certain changes to your Medicare during this time.

The name confuses people since most healthcare days are centered around “enrollments” and not “elections”. As with most problems, you can blame Congress for this.

Whether or not you like your plan, you’ll want to take time during AEP to see if you’re overpaying for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D. Click To Tweet

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Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA-OEP): January 1 — March 31, 2019

Starting in 2019, there’s an additional Medicare holiday to consider.

With the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, you can make a one-way change to your plan at the start of the year.

This enrollment period is suitable for people who aren’t satisfied with the plan they received during the similar Annual Election Period in October. The additional restrictions on this January event make it less suitable for casual shoppers.

What Can You Do During the new Medicare Open Enrollment Period?

  • Move from one Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C) to another Advantage plan – but only one time.
  • Move from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B).
  • Join or leave your Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage entirely – provided you already had Medicare Advantage before January 1.

What CAN’T You Do During the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?

  • Move from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage.
  • Move from one Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to a different RX drug plan.

When Are Medicare Open Enrollment Changes Effective? When you leave a Medicare Advantage plan during your MA-OEP, your Part C plan lasts through the end of the month. For instance: if you request to leave your Medicare Advantage plan on January 27, your last day on the plan will be January 31. Your new Medicare Advantage plan would start on February 1.

It’s also easy to cancel a Medicare Advantage plan during your MA-OEP.

Can You Change Multiple Times? During the October Annual Election Period, you can make as many coverage changes as you want. During the January MA-OEP, you can only change once. You may still use a Special Enrollment Period or next year’s Annual Election Period to change coverage once more.

Extra Part A & B Coverage After Your MA-OEP: You can add a Medicare Supplement plan (which pays your out-of-pocket costs) to your Original Medicare if you use the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.

Once you have Original Medicare, you can generally join a Medicare Supplement plan at any time.

However, you may be subject to medical underwriting – meaning you are not guaranteed automatic enrollment or the lowest possible rate. You can avoid underwriting if you were on Medicare Advantage for less than a year.

Standalone Medicare Part D After Your MA-OEP: If you used the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period to leave your Medicare Advantage plan, then you can join a standalone Medicare Part D RX drug plan during this time. Medicare Part D helps pay for your prescriptions. This is available to you even if your coverage didn’t include Part D before you left.

What’s New for 2019? From 2011 to 2018, January instead meant a shorter and more limited Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP) that only allowed you to leave Medicare Advantage for Original Medicare. Congress changed the MADP via the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016.doctor blood test | AEP explainer

Joining Medicare Advantage or Medicare Drug Coverage At Other Times

Open Enrollment: In general, you can always enroll in the exact Medicare coverage you want within your first few months of joining Medicare. This open enrollment happens when you turn 65 (if you enroll automatically) or when you first get Part B (if you delayed Medicare enrollment).

Special Enrollment: We’ve also shared a list of unique circumstances that let you change Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D coverage at any time of the year. Life changes such as moving to a new ZIP code or even becoming eligible for Medicaid can give you additional control over your Medicare timeline.

You’ll want to call HealthCare.com and speak with a independent licensed agent for extra help in these cases.

Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Enrollment Dates

When you’re adjusting your Medicare coverage, you’ll have to choose whether a new Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Supplement plan is right for you. You can’t have Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement at once, because they basically cover the same things.

Unlike Medicare Advantage, you can join a Medicare Supplement plan at any time. You can join even if it’s not your Medigap open enrollment or special enrollment period. However, your monthly premium will be based on your age and health conditions, and enrollment will not be guaranteed.

When Does New Medicare Information Appear?

New plan info typically appears around early October. You’ll want to look for a letter that says “Annual Notice of Change” or “Evidence of Coverage”.

This annual notice should arrive by September 30 for people with Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D. You may want to give it a once-over before you start looking for new coverage, to get an idea of what’s changed in the world of Medicare.

Most Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans make changes each year. The price of your plan could increase, or your in-network coverage could be affected. Thankfully, the Annual Election Period lets you easily change to a new plan if Medicare costs are not in your favor.

Where Can I Find Extra Info About Medicare, Enrollments, and More?

We love helping people “do their homework” on Medicare. Continue to browse our info section to discuss material from licensed health insurance experts. Although Medicare can seem complicated, guidelines like the Medicare AEP prevent you from making serious mistakes about your coverage.falling medical supplies | page break

How Can I Join These Plans?

By Phone: We’ll talk you through it. Dial 833-282-4657 to connect with a licensed, independent Medicare agent over the phone.

By Internet: Using a price comparison site like HealthCare.com gives you a hands-on look at different offers. We don’t sell plans ourselves, which means we’re free to show competing companies in your area.

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