Medicare Annual Enrollment Period—5 Questions and Answers

Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), is the one time of year when you can make changes to an existing Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug plan. Basically, you have a few choices. You can join a new Medicare Advantage (MA) Plan or Prescription Drug Plan (PDP), switch between MA plans, or leave a Medicare Advantage Plan to return to Original Medicare. With many options, the Annual Enrollment Period can be confusing. Here are five frequently asked questions, with answers to help you easily navigate this important time of year.

Q1: When is Annual Enrollment?  

A1: Annual Enrollment begins on October 15th and ends on December 7th.

These dates are important to remember. If you make changes at any time during Annual Enrollment, they will take effect January 1st. Remember, in most cases, Annual Enrollment is the only time you can move to a new Medicare Advantage or Part D plan. Be sure to do research ahead of time and be ready to switch if that’s what you decide to do.

Q2: I’ve read myAnnual Notice of Change (ANOC), and my costs are going up. What can I do?

A2: Annual Enrollment is your time to make changes to your Medicare plan.

As a member of a Medicare plan, you should receive an Annual Notice of Change in the mail by the last day of September. This important document includes any changes in costs and benefits that will impact your current plan in the upcoming year. If, after reviewing your ANOC, you no longer want to continue with the plan you have, now is the time to change. During Annual Enrollment, you may make the following changes:

  • Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare.
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Switch from one Prescription Drug Plan to another Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Drop Medicare Prescription Drug coverage completely.

Don’t forget, Original Medicare does not include prescription drug coverage. If you leave a current Medicare Advantage Plan with prescription coverage and return to Original Medicare, you will need to join a standalone Part D plan.If you do not enroll in standalone Part D plan, a Part D penalty may apply.

Q3: Annual Enrollment ended, but I do not like the new Medicare Advantage Plan I joined. What can I do?

A3: After Annual Enrollment ends, there is a Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period, January 1-February 14th. 

The Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP) was created for people who are dissatisfied with their MA plan after Annual Enrollment ends. This is another time in addition to Annual Enrollment when you can disenroll. Note: you cannot enroll in a new MA plan during this time, or switch between plans. It is for disenrollment only. You may leave your Medicare Advantage Plan and return to Original Medicare during this time. Note: if you leave an MA plan with prescription drug benefits, you have until Feb 14th to add drug coverage to Original Medicare.

Q4: Is Annual Enrollment the same asOpen Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace?

A4: No. Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace is not Open Enrollment for Medicare.

The federal health exchanges were created to provide insurance options for underinsured or uninsured Americans in need of health insurance coverage. As a member of Medicare, Annual Enrollment (Oct 15-Dec 7) is for you to change your Medicare plan only.

Q5: If I want to make changes to my Medicare plan, what do I need to do?

QA: Joining, switching or dropping a Medicare Advantage Plan or Prescription Drug Plan during Annual Enrolment is easy.  

  • To Join a Medicare Advantage Plan, simply enroll in the plan and your old coverage will be discontinued automatically.
  • To switch between MA plans, simply join the new plan and you will be disenrolled from the old plan automatically when your new coverage starts.
  • To switch from an MA plan back to Original Medicare, contact your current plan.
  • To join a Prescription Drug Plan, enroll in the plan you choose and coverage will begin January 1st.

 

Resources:

https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/when-can-i-join-a-health-or-drug-plan/when-can-i-join-a-health-or-drug-plan.html#collapse-3190

https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/medicare-health-plans/medicare-advantage-plans/when-to-join-medicare-advantage-plan.html

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