A Simple Guide to Medicare’s Annual Election Period
The Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP), also known as open enrollment, allows you to switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan (also known as Medicare Part C), or switch from an Advantage Plan to Original Medicare. You may also join a Medicare Drug Plan (Medicare Part D), or drop your prescription coverage. Open enrollment for Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug plans runs from October 15 to December 7.
In addition, you may make a variety of changes to your plan, such as changing from one Advantage plan to another or changing your Prescription Drug Plan. You do not have to make changes during open enrollment. If you are happy with your current coverage and did not receive a non-renewal notice that your plan will be discontinued, you may simply do nothing and continue enjoying your current level of coverage. However, it’s always smart to compare plans. You never know if you’ll find a great option that meets all of your healthcare needs but at a better price than your current plan.
If you wish to leave your Medicare Advantage plan, you can also take advantage of Medicare’s Annual Disenrollment Period, which begins on January 1 and ends on February 14. During that period, all Medicare Advantage beneficiaries may switch to Original Medicare. If you do so, you also have until February 14 to sign up for a Prescription Drug Plan. Once your plan receives your enrollment form, your coverage begins the first day of the following month.
If you wish to make changes to your plan outside of the AEP, you must experience an eligible life event, such as changing where you live or losing your current coverage. Medicare does everything it can to make it as easy as possible for you enroll in the healthcare plan that best meets your needs.
The following infographic explains everything you can do during open enrollment, the disenrollment period, and qualifying life changes.
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