If you are an existing Medicare beneficiary, here are six things you can change during the Annual Enrollment Period. First, let’s clarify what the Annual Enrollment Period is and why it matters.
What is the Annual Enrollment Period?
The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) runs annually from October 15th-December 7th and is when Medicare beneficiaries can add, change, or drop their Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan coverage for the upcoming year. Any changes made during the AEP will take effect on January 1st of next year.
Download our Annual Enrollment Period Checklist to help you prepare.
What changes can I make during the Annual Enrollment Period?
It is important to understand exactly what changes can be made during AEP. There are six changes you can make to your Medicare plan during the Annual Enrollment Period.
- You can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage.
- You can switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare
- You can also switch from an existing Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan. This change can be with or without Part D coverage.
- You can switch from an existing stand-alone Part D plan to another stand-alone Part D plan.
- If you didn’t enroll when first eligible for Part D prescription drug coverage, you can do so now.
- You can opt out of Part D prescription drug coverage completely.
Please remember that any changes to Medicare Advantage will still require you to remain enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B.
How will I know what might be changing about my Medicare plan?
Before making any changes, make sure you receive and review your existing plan’s Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). This communication will provide you information on changes to your plan for the upcoming year and will include information on deductibles, co-payments, out of pocket expenses, added benefits, deleted or modified benefits and more.
What should I consider before changing my Medicare plan?
- Evaluate your health care needs for the upcoming year as well as any budget considerations.
- Pay close attention to both obvious and hidden costs. One can properly plan for premiums, but make sure you understand your exposure to out of pocket expenses such as deductibles, copayments, co-insurance and maximum out of pocket limits.
- Make sure you consult your medical providers before making any changes to see if a change will impact your access to care.
- Evaluate available plans to identify if benefits offered can maintain or improve your overall health.
- Regarding Part D coverage, confirm your medications will remain on the formulary and research any tier changes.
- Pay attention to star ratings. Higher rated plans will have a greater level of customer satisfaction.
- Depending on where you live, it may be possible to purchase a Medigap policy, which helps pay for Original Medicare costs.
How do I know what to change with my benefits?
Medicare is a very fluid program that is continuously looking to improve and change to meet consumer needs and demands. Thus, remaining up to date on changes in your benefits as well as those of other plans will allow you to make the right decisions for your upcoming plan year.
If you need help in evaluating your plans and benefits, find a local Licensed Medicare Insurance Broker and schedule an appointment during the Annual Enrollment Period.