Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP): When It Is and How It Works

One of the benefits of being a Medicare member is that you can update your coverage from year to year. If you have medical, financial, or other lifestyle changes, it might be time for a different Medicare plan. Any Medicare member can change their coverage during the Annual Enrollment Period, or AEP. The AEP is the perfect time to add, change, drop or switch plans for the coming year. Learn more about the Annual Enrollment Period and discover how to change your Texas Medicare options.

What Is The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period helps you get the most out of your coverage for the rest of your life. Many Medicare members use their coverage for decades so flexibility is important. The AEP occurs every year and offers a useful chance to update your Medicare options.

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period runs from October 15 to December 7 every year. You can make changes to your Medicare medical, hospital, and drug coverage during the AEP during this time. Any changes you make to your Medicare coverage go into effect starting January 1 of the next year. For example, any changes that you make in 2021 will become effective on January 1, 2022.

You can learn about the coming year’s Medicare options beginning in early October. This timeline gives you a chance to study your choices and make a decision before AEP ends in December.

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) 1

Why Should I Change My Medicare Benefits During The AEP?

You can change your Medicare options to make sure you’re still receiving the best combination of benefits and services for your needs. Private insurance companies that offer Medicare Part C, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D plans often update their plans for the new year. These updates can impact your coverage, fees, and which providers are in-network.

You might want to change your Medicare plan if these changes aren’t a good fit for you anymore. For example, maybe the changes would make your current plan too expensive for your budget, or take your favorite pharmacy out of network. You can choose a different Medicare Part C or Part D plan for the new year if this is the case.

Not every plan makes changes each year. Your provider is required to send you an annual notice of change (ANOC) letter if they are updating your coverage. Look for this form in September to learn about coming changes or updates to your plan.

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What Changes Are Possible During AEP?

You can make a range of updates to your Medicare coverage during the AEP. Here are some common changes people make

  • Move from Medicare Part A and Part B (also known as Original Medicare) to Medicare Part C (or a Medicare Advantage plan)
  • Change from Medicare Part C back to Medicare Part A and Part B
  • Switch Medicare Advantage plans
  • Change the prescription coverage on your Medicare Advantage plan
  • Update Medicare Part D drug coverage
Understanding Medicare Open Enrollment

Can I Change My Medicare Coverage At Any Other Time?

The AEP is an important time to update your plan, but it isn’t the only option. You can also change your coverage during the General Enrollment Period, Part D Enrollment for special circumstances, Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment, Medigap Open Enrollment, and other special enrollment periods.

Medicare General Enrollment Period

The General Enrollment Period runs from January 1 to March 31 of each year. You can sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B if you didn’t sign up when you were originally eligible. You may have to pay a late enrollment fee in this case, but you’re still eligible for Medicare. 

You can also sign up for Medicare Advantage if you already have Medicare Part A coverage and haven’t used Part B before. If you sign up during the General Enrollment Period, your coverage goes into effect on July 1. 

Part D Enrollment for Special Circumstances

You can sign up for drug coverage through Medicare Part D from April 1 through June 30, but there are some special requirements. You must pay a premium for Part A and have enrolled in Part B during the General Enrollment Period to be eligible for these special circumstances. Your coverage will start on July 1 if these descriptions apply to you.

Mature couple riding tandem

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

You can sign up for Medicare Advantage from January 1 to March 31. Typical changes include switching Medicare Advantage plans or going back to Original Medicare. You’re allowed to make one change during this time and the updates will go into effect the month after your insurance company accepts your application. 

Medigap Open Enrollment Period

If you’re interested in Medigap coverage or Medicare supplemental insurance to use with original Medicare, you have six months to enroll. You can sign up when you’re 65 years or older and have enrolled in Medicare Part B for the first time. You have six months after signing up for Part B to add Medigap coverage. 

Special Enrollment Periods

There are some other times you can change your Medicare coverage. These are specific to your situation and won’t be the same for everyone. Special enrollment periods may be triggered by the following circumstances:

  • Losing employer insurance when you’re eligible for Medicare
  • Moving
  • Marriage
  • Divorce
mid age man exercising at the beach

Learn More About AEP

There are lots of components to coverage, but getting Medicare shouldn’t be complicated. The friendly experts at Coverage2Care can help you navigate the Annual Enrollment Period as well as other changes to your Medicare journey. Contact us today to learn more about your options and get the best coverage for your situation.

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