Annual Enrollment Period Basics

October 6, 2021

There are various Medicare enrollment periods throughout the year. Let’s go over the basics of the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), the changes you can make during this time, and where to get help if you have questions.

What is Medicare AEP?

AEP is the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Enrollment Period is also called the “Annual Election Period”. AEP is one of four Medicare enrollment periods in which beneficiaries can change their Medicare coverage. AEP runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.

Who does AEP affect?

AEP is important for everyone to understand, but it does not necessarily affect all Medicare beneficiaries. AEP is most important for anyone looking to change coverage concerning a Medicare Advantage (Part C) and prescription drug (Part D) plan. While you can still shop for other Medicare plans (like Medicare Supplement and Dental, Vision, and Hearing), those plan types are not dependent on AEP to make changes.

What changes can be made during AEP?

Here is a general list of what you can do during the Annual Enrollment Period. NOTE: Changes to Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D coverage become effective on Jan. 1 of the following year.

  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Medicare Supplement Insurance
  • Enroll in or switch your Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to just Original Medicare (Part A & Part B).
  • Replace Original Medicare (Part A & Part B) with a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Change your prescription drug plan (Part D).
  • Enroll in a Part D plan.
  • Change from a Part D plan to a Medicare Advantage plan (if you are enrolled in Part A and Part B of Original Medicare.)
  • Remove your Part D prescription drug coverage.

What can’t be done during AEP?

Here is a list of things you cannot do during the Annual Enrollment Period:

  • Qualify for a guaranteed issue of a Medicare Supplement with the AEP election code only (unless this coincides with your initial enrollment period). You’ll need to go through other qualification standards to test if you’re eligible for a guaranteed issue of a supplement.
  • Enroll into group or retiree benefit plans.

Get help with AEP

If you would like to make changes to your Medicare plans, but don’t know where to start, SmartMatch can help. Our licensed insurance agents work with you to determine the best coverage for you at the best price for your budget. They can help you compare a number of different insurance products at the click of a button, including:

  • Medicare Supplement
  • Medicare Advantage
  • Prescription Drug (Part D)
  • Dental, Vision, and Hearing
  • And much more!

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