Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) begins on October 15th and lasts until December 7th. Annual Enrollment Period is the time during each year when Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D beneficiaries can make changes to their plans. There are several changes beneficiaries can make during this time, but it will depend on what type of plan you currently have.
Annual Enrollment Period does not apply to Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans. Medigap members can change to a lesser plan or switch from the same level of coverage with a different company at specific times during the year. But, Medigap plan members can use Annual Enrollment Period to make changes to their Part D plan or they can use it to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan and disenroll from their current Medigap plan.
Medicare Advantage (MA) plan
If you already have a Medicare Advantage plan, the Annual Enrollment Period is a time for you to review how your current plan will be changing. If there are other Medicare Advantage plans in your area, you may want to compare their benefits to your current plans. You can either decide to stay with your current plan, or switch to another Advantage plan (either with Part D or without it) or you can enroll in a stand-alone Part D plan which will cancel your Medicare Advantage plan automatically.
Stand-alone Medicare Part D plan
If you have a stand-alone Part D plan and either Original Medicare or Medicare Supplement plan you can make changes to your drug plan during Annual Enrollment Period. You should review how your Part D plan will change and compare it with other Part D plans in your state. You can decide to stay with your current plan and in that case do not have to do anything. You can choose a different Part D plan, which coverage will begin on January 1st, or you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan with or without Part D.
During the Annual Enrollment Period, you can submit applications for multiple plans. For example, say you choose a plan in October and then learn of a plan you like better in November. You apply for the new plan in November. Whichever application is received last will be the plan that begins January 1st.
Look out for new cards in the mail even if you stay with your current plan. Because your Medicare Advantage or Part D plan is an annual contract, each year you are technically starting a “new plan”. If you do not have a new card after January 1st, you may want to contact the insurance company to get your ID number in the event you need services performed.