The Medicare Annual Election Period grants you the opportunity to change your current benefits, switch to a new plan from your current plan, or enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan.
Medicare only allows for those changes to be made within a certain time frame.
What You Can Do During AEP
Within the Medicare Annual Election Period, or AEP, you may consider making some changes to your current health care plan. During the AEP, you can opt to:
- Switch from the Original Medicare plan, to Medicare Advantage.
- Or switch from your Medicare Advantage plan, to the Original Medicare plan.
- Enroll in the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan.
- Transition from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan.
- Shift from prescription drug plan, to another prescription drug plan.
- Leave a Medicare Advantage plan that does not include prescription drug coverage, to one that does.
- Or leave a Medicare Advantage plan that does have a prescription drug plan, to one that does not, if you find you don’t need the extra coverage for prescribed medication.
- Drop your prescription drug coverage.
Once you have decided how you want to handle the changes to your current health plan, it is important to know when you have the ability to do so.
When is the Annual Election Period?
Typically, the Annual Election Period (AEP) falls between October 15th to December 7th each year. If changes are made in that time frame, your new plan will be effective in January of the following year. However, it is important to note that for each part of Medicare, there are different election periods.
Medicare Annual Election Period Checklist for 2019
Enrolling in Medicare for the first time, changing your current benefits, or switching to a new plan from your current plan, is actually a pretty simple process. Once you are ready to make some changes, here is a checklist to help you through the process.
Step 1: Make sure you are eligible to enroll
Verifying that you are eligible to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan is a crucial first step. If you meet the requirements for Medicare eligibility, you are all set to start the enrollment process when it is available to you. For Medicare Advantage, you will need to be receiving Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.
Step 2: Decide if your current coverage is what you need
We encourage you to take a deeper look into the coverage you are currently receiving. Think about your health situation, and what you are currently getting the most use out of. Then, try to figure out how you may be able to supplement or take away from your plan. For example, if your only doctor visits this year have been routine appointments, you may consider downgrading your plan.
Step 3: Research how Medicare affects your current insurance
When looking into Medicare plans, it is recommended that you discuss with your provider how your insurance works alongside Medicare. In some instances, Medicare advantage could possibly put your current plan at risk. Confirm that they will work together in the most beneficial way for you before making your decision.
Step 4: Compare costs and review them thoroughly
This may be considered one of the most important steps to finding the perfect coverage for you. Often times, you may be able to find a better and more affordable option for health care coverage. Remember, Medicare Advantage plans are typically cheaper in cost than the Original Medicare plan. Remember to consider co-pays, premiums, and even deductibles while making your decision.
Step 5: Check physician availability
One thing that is often looked over during the Annual Election Period (AEP) is the availability of good doctors and hospitals. Most plans will come with a directory of doctors, so be sure you are comfortable with those lists.
If you have completed this checklist, and decided on the best option for you, it is time to move forward. If you still feel like you could use a bit more information, please feel free to contact us today, and we will help get you set up in the right direction.
Special Election Periods
Special Election Periods, or SEP, can be granted to beneficiaries under certain circumstances. Medicare will allow changes to be made outside of the annual election period only if the beneficiary is experiences one of the following complications:
- Relocating, or moving away from where your plan is no longer available.
- Qualifying for extra assistance.
- The contract being cut between your plan and Medicare.
- Moving to or from a hospital or assistance facility.
- Receiving Medicare and Medicaid.
- Losing your current coverage.
Usually, once the event takes place that knocks you from your current plan and into a Special Election Period, you will have two months to decide on your new coverage plan.
Please note, while all of these options were made to create the best health care environment for your personal needs, it is still reversible to an extent. You may disenroll in Medicare Advantage, and return back to the Original Medicare if you choose.
Disenrollment period runs from the 1st of January through February 14th. If you choose to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription medicine coverage, there will be a Special Election Period where you may decide to enroll in the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan.
Important Factors to Consider
Helping you avoid mishaps and confusion is very important to us. We want to stay away from making hasty decisions, so here are some last-minute factors we encourage you to consider.
- Make sure your provider network is desirable for your medical needs.
- Be sure to check if all of the prescription drugs you take are covered, and within your means.
- Look into the costs as a whole, not just premiums.
- And last, but certainly not least, check out the ratings for the plan you are interested in. Excellent ratings and customer satisfaction reports will tell you a lot about how beneficial the plan will be for you.
For many, the Medicare process can sometimes be stressful and create angst to your health care situation. However, don’t forget, we are available to answer all of your Medicare related questions, at your convenience.
If you have concerns or need assistance, give us a call today, and one of our agents would be happy to help you through this process. I hope you’ve found this Medicare Annual Enrollment Period checklist helpful! If you would like to compare rates now online, click here for our rate form.