Every year a Medicare Open Enrollment Period, correctly referred to as the Annual Enrollment Period, is made available for people who qualify for Medicare benefits.
During this time, anyone who is eligible for Parts A and B can enroll in or make changes to their Medicare coverage.
Part D & Medicare Advantage benefits can change each year, meaning premiums can go up and benefits can change. If you’re not happy with the changes to your current Part D or Medicare Advantage benefits and premiums, you have an Annual Election Period to change them.
However, if you’re happy with your current plan and all the changes for next year, then there’s nothing you need to do!
Your insurance provider will send you a letter called the “Annual Notice of Change.” It’s important to take a few minutes to review this letter. This letter is sent out each year in September and will inform you of any changes to your plan such as premiums, copays pharmacy networks, and drug formularies.
Medicare Open Enrollment for 2019-2020
The 2019-2020 Medicare Open Enrollment Period is October 15th, 2019 – December 7th, 2019 for a January 1st, 2020 effective date.
What Can I do During the 2019-2020 Medicare Open Enrollment Period?
During the Medicare Open Enrollment Period you can:
- Change from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa
- Choose a different Medicare Advantage plan
- Make changes to your current Part D coverage
- Apply for Part D, although fees may be required
What Can’t I Do During the Medicare OEP?
- Enroll in Part B without a qualifying medical event
- Apply for Medicare Advantage Plans that are not in your geographic region
- Make changes between your Medicare plans without answering medical questions
You Want to Change Your Plan If:
- Significant premium increase
- Doctor no longer in your Medicare Advantage plan network
- Medications are no longer covered
Your Annual Notice of Change letter will let you know all of the above.
Are Medicare Supplement Plan Benefits Changing?
No, your Medicare Supplement plan benefits don’t change like Part D plans. All plan benefits are standardized by the government, this means your plan will continue to cover the same benefits from year to year.
However, Medicare Supplement plans do have rate increases annually. Rate increases happen on your policy anniversary date.
Your carrier will send you a notice of increase letter in the mail the month prior to your anniversary date.
Shopping Medicare Supplements During OEP
Sure, you can do that! A lot of beneficiaries knock two birds out with one stone by comparing Part D plans and Medicare Supplements at the same time. Since benefits are standardized, you don’t have to be afraid of switching carriers since your benefits will be the same.
The only thing different between carriers and plans is the amount they charge you in monthly premiums.
One carrier may charge you more for the same exact benefits. Comparing other carrier premiums to make sure you’re not overpaying is completely your choice.
Keep in mind, unless you have a special circumstance that grants you guaranteed issue, you’ll have to answer health questions when switching your Medicare Supplement plan during AEP.
You can only change your Medicare Advantage and Part D plans during this time without answering any health questions.
Who is the Medicare Open Enrollment for?
The fall Medicare Open Enrollment is for any Medicare beneficiary enrolled in Parts A and B. You can switch or enroll in Part C or D plans during this Annual Enrollment Period.
The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is for beneficiaries new to Medicare Part B and at least 65 years old. This is a 6-month window to apply for a Medigap plan without answering health questions.
Who qualifies for Medicare Open Enrollment?
Any Medicare beneficiary enrolled in Parts A and B will be eligible for a plan change during the fall Open Enrollment Period.
What if I missed the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?
If you missed the Medicare Open Election Period, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.
Medicare Special Election Periods give you the chance to enroll in a new plan outside of the normal enrollment periods. There are many different types of events that would qualify you for a Special Election Period.
The SEP allows you to enroll in or change your plan when a certain life event occurs, the rules for each different SEP.
Licensed Insurance agents can help identify your eligibility for coverage.
What’s the difference between Medicare’s Open Enrollment and Annual Enrollment Period?
These two phrases are often used interchangeably. The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period occurs every year, so some sources will refer to it as the Open Enrollment Period.
When does the Medicare Open Enrollment Start and End?
The Medicare fall Enrollment Period deadline for coverage starting in January 2020 ends on December 7, 2019.
Beneficiaries on Medicare Advantage plans can change coverage during the Open Enrollment Period from January 1st through March 31st. New policies go into effect the first day of the month following an application.
When is the General Enrollment Period for Part B?
The Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP) is for those that need to enroll in Parts A and B. Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for Part A and/or Part B during the General Enrollment Period between January 1st and March 31st each year, if both of the following are applicable:
- You did not sign up when you were first eligible.
- You aren’t eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.
Part A and Part B premiums must be paid, and the coverage will be effective July 1st. Keep in mind that you may pay a higher premium for late enrollment into Parts A and B.
Federal coverage will begin on July 1st of the same year.
When is the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment?
It’s ideal to buy your Medigap policy during your 6-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period. During this time, you can buy any Medicare supplement policy sold in your state, even if you have health problems.
This period automatically starts the month you turn 65 and enrolled into Part B.
If you wait until after this time, you may not be able to buy a Medicare Supplement and if you are able to purchase one, it could cost more than if you purchased during this time.
Can I get help with the Medicare Open Enrollment process?
Talk to an Agent about the Upcoming 2019 Medicare Annual Election Period Today.
It’s important to be aware of all the options available to you during the Medicare Annual Election Period. There are a great number of different plans available, but only certain ones will give you the coverage you need.
The Different Enrollment Periods Explained
There are several types of enrollment periods that you need to remember. Knowledge is power; if you’re aware of the opportunities available to you then there is a possibility for a better plan, financial savings and higher quality of health care.
When you are first eligible for Medicare, you qualify for the initial election period. This is a 7-month period that you are eligible to enroll in the federal Medicare program. The 7-month window includes the 3 months before you turn 65, the month of your birthday, and the 3 months after your birthday.
Special Enrollment Periods occur when changes are made for you or your insurance.
Talking to an agent before you turn 65 will give you the chance to understand Medicare and be confident in your plan selection throughout the future of your health care.
Our insurance agents work for multiple companies, speaking with them will allow you to have quality consulting instead of someone trying to sell you only one plan.
The New Medicare OEP
As if the different enrollment periods aren’t confusing enough, there’s a big change starting in 2019. It’s the return of the Medicare Open Enrollment Period.
Wait, is that not what we’re talking about now? As stated above, the correct term for the enrollment period we’re talking about is Annual Election Period, or Annual Enrollment Period, that runs from October 15th – December 7th.
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries who want to switch to another Advantage plan or switch back to Original Medicare and enroll in Part D and/or Medigap. This period is from January 1st – March 31st.
How to Get Help During the Medicare Open Enrollment Period
We’re here to help you, we created an AEP checklist that you can read here. There’s a huge demand for guidance each year during AEP, and our agents are standing by to help you today. Call the number above to compare rates or fill out or compare rate forms online now.