The Medicare open enrollment period is the time during which people with Medicare can make new choices and pick plans that work best for them. Each year Medicare plans typically change what they cost and cover. In addition, your health-care needs may have changed over the past year. The open enrollment period is your opportunity to switch Medicare health and prescription drug plans to better suit your needs.
Below are some frequently asked questions that will help you understand if this enrollment period pertains to you.
What is it?
The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (“AEP”) allows Medicare Beneficiaries to change or drop their Medicare Advantage Plan or Part â€˜D’ Drug Plan. (Note: Medicare Advantage is an HMO style of coverage. It is not a Medicare Supplement also known as MediGap. For more on this, you can read this blog post and this newsletter.)
When is it?
The Medicare open enrollment period begins on October 15 and runs through December 7. Any changes made during open enrollment are effective as of January 1, 2013.
What do I need to do during the AEP?
If you want to change or drop your Medicare Advantage Plan or Part â€˜D’ Drug Plan, you must call a Broker or the Insurance Company.
During the open enrollment period you can do the following:
- Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
- Switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
- Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage altogether
- Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare
- Change from one Medicare Advantage Plan to a different Medicare Advantage Plan
- Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers prescription drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer prescription drug coverage
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer prescription drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that does offer prescription drug coverage
What if I do nothing?
If you do nothing, your Medicare Advantage Plan or Part â€˜D’ Drug Plan will remain in effect until you change or drop it.
What should you do?
Now is a good time to review your current Medicare plan. There are some factors you may want to consider as part of that evaluation. For instance, are you satisfied with the coverage and level of care you’re getting with your current plan? Are your premium costs or out-of-pocket expenses too high?
Has your health changed, or do you anticipate needing medical care or treatment? Now is the time to determine if your current plan will cover your treatment and what your potential out-of-pocket costs may be. If your current plan doesn’t meet your health-care needs or fit within your budget, you can switch to a plan that may work better for you.
What if I miss the AEP deadline?
The “Annual Disenrollment Period” runs from January 1st – February 15th. During this time, you may still drop your Medicare Advantage Plan to buy a Medicare Supplement (MediGap) and Part â€˜D’ Drug Plan, but you can’t buy a new Medicare Advantage Plan.
What if I have a Medicare Supplement (MediGap)?
If you have a Medicare Supplement (MediGap), you are not subject to the AEP calendar rules. You may actually change from one MediGap company to another anytime of year.