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Medicare Annual Enrollment Period Guide
Medicare Advantage Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) vs Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP)
The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period—also known as AEP—allows Medicare beneficiaries the opportunity to look at their current coverage and make changes. As plans change every year, this enrollment period often presents more affordable coverage options or policies with greater benefits, and even if you’re satisfied with your current Medicare plan, there can be benefits to looking at all of your options.
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period—also known as OEP—allows Medicare Advantage plan participants to make a one-time plan change. There are limitations to what changes can and can’t be made during OEP.
Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)
Even if you’re satisfied with your existing Medicare plan, AEP is a great opportunity for all Medicare beneficiaries to compare all of the coverage options available. Consider that you may be missing out on benefits you both need and deserve, including dental, vision, hearing, and prescription drug coverage. Additionally, prices and plans can change every year, but there may be $0/month premium plans in your area.*
Medicare Annual Enrollment Period
Medicare beneficiaries can:
- Switch from Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B) to a Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C).
- Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan.
- Switch from one Prescription Drug plan (Medicare Part D) to another or enroll in a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan for more comprehensive coverage.
- Add a Prescription Drug plan if you didn’t enroll when first eligible for Medicare.
Any changes you make during the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Enrollment Period will take effect on January 1 of the following year.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP)
OEP is exclusively for individuals enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and only one switch is allowed during the first quarter of the year. If you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan and decide it’s no longer the right fit, you have between January 1 and March 31 to make a change. You can also only sign up for Part D coverage during the first 3 months of the year if you’re switching from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare (Parts A and B), unless you qualify for a special enrollment period (only available under particular circumstances).
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
Medicare Advantage participants can:
- Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan
- Drop a Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B)
- Sign up for a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan, if electing to return to Original Medicare
For those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, only one switch is allowed during the OEP in the first quarter of the year. If you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan in the fall during AEP and decide you don’t like the plan once it takes effect in January, you have until the end of March to make a change. You can also only sign up for Part D coverage during the first 3 months of the year if you’re switching from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare (Parts A and B).
When You Should Enroll in Medicare — OEP vs. AEP
When you should enroll in Medicare is going to be similar, yet different, for everybody. You first become eligible to enroll in Medicare three months before your 65th birthday, thus kicking off the Initial Enrollment Period, but as benefits and costs have the ability to change every year, it can be extremely beneficial to revisit your coverage on an annual basis to make sure your plan is still the right fit for you.
All Medicare beneficiaries are eligible to change their coverage during AEP in the fall, but only Medicare Advantage enrollees can make adjustments during OEP at the beginning of the calendar year. Even if you’re satisfied with your Medicare coverage, AEP is a great opportunity to compare all of the options available to you, ensuring you’re getting all the benefits you deserve. If you’ve enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and decide it’s no longer the right fit for you, you can reevaluate your options during OEP for a one-time change.
Let SelectQuote help you with your Medicare options.
All of the terminology that comes with Medicare can be intimidating and confusing, but we can save you time by comparing plans available in your area from some of the most trusted carriers. The service is free and there’s no obligation to enroll. See what kind of plans are available to you.