Understanding Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

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During Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), you can review your Medicare coverage to decide which plan works best for you. At ApexHealth, we want you to feel confident about understanding the AEP, whether you’re already enrolled in Medicare or are about to enroll in Medicare. Here’s a quick guide to help you get ready.

What is AEP?

The AEP is the time when you can enroll in a new Medicare plan for the first time or switch between plans. Think of it as a time to take inventory of your current coverage and make sure you’re getting what you need. Review your current plan and compare it against others that might better meet your needs. Reasons to switch may include:

  • A change in income
  • Changes in costs or coverage under your current plan
  • One or more of your prescriptions are no longer covered
  • Better choices of supplemental benefits to help you get more out of life

During Medicare AEP you can:

  • Leave Original Medicare (Parts A and B) to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan
  • Enroll in a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
  • Leave your Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare

If you want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan (like ApexHealth) you will need to enroll in Original Medicare first. (We go over more about how Medicare Advantage works in a previous blog post.) 

When does AEP take place?

Medicare’s AEP runs annually from October 15 through December 7. During this time, you’re able to make changes to your coverage whether you have Original Medicare, a Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan. If you decide to make changes to your coverage during this time, your new plan will begin on January 1 of the following year.

There are other times where you can reevaluate your Medicare coverage:

  1. The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP) which runs form January 1 to March 31. During this time, if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can switch to Original Medicare or a different Medicare Advantage plan.
  2. A Special Enrollment Period (SEP) which you may qualify for under special circumstances. These include recently losing employer coverage or moving out of your current plan’s service area. 

How do I get ready for AEP?

During the AEP, you can make changes to your Medicare coverage at any time. We recommend that you start the process early to give yourself plenty of time to review your plan options, compare prescription drug coverage and find out if your doctor or other healthcare providers are part of a plan’s provider network. If you’re interested in ApexHealth, our team of ApexAssistants are here to help you every step of the way. Give us a call at (844) 279-0508 (TTY: 711). Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Apr. 1 through Sept. 30 and seven days a week 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Oct. 1 through Mar. 31.

ApexHealth members, keep an eye out for your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) that we mail to you each fall. Visit our plans page and enter your zip code to see what plans are available in your area. Note that offerings for the upcoming plan year will be available after October 1. 

What if I’m happy with my current Medicare Advantage plan?

Good news! If you’re an ApexHealth member, and you’re satisfied with your plan, you don’t have to do anything. Your ApexHealth Medicare Advantage plan will auto-renew at the end of the year and your coverage will continue into the new plan year. Remember that if you have any questions about updated plans or our offerings in your service area, give our team a call!

As we countdown toward the start of AEP, the ApexHealth team will continue to share resources with you to make sure you’re informed. Take a look at our other blog posts and follow us on social media – FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

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