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The Annual Enrollment Period, or AEP, is the time of year when you can enroll for a new Medicare Advantage plan for the first time, or make changes to your existing Advantage plan. The opening window for AEP starts on October 15th and lasts until December 7th each year. During this window, you can take a closer look at the healthcare benefits you’re receiving and review your plan options. AEP provides an excellent opportunity to make amendments to your Medicare Advantage plan and explore new options that are more suitable for you.
You can make the following changes in your healthcare plan during AEP:
- Change your original Medicare plan to a Medicare Advantage Plan, Part C
- Change your Medicare Advantage Plan to your Original Medicare Plan, Part A, and Part B
- Switch your Medicare Advantage Plan
- Enroll in a new Prescription Drug Plan
- Switch your Medicare Prescription Drug plan
- Altogether leave your Prescription Drug Coverage
- Change your Medi-gap plan to Medicare Advantage Plan
I Missed AEP; What Now?
The AEP window is only open from October 15th until December 7th; however, there are still a few options you can consider in case you missed AEP.
- Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
The Initial Enrollment Period, or IEP, provides an enrollment opportunity to people who are new to Medicare. IEP can be your first opportunity to enroll in Parts A or Parts B of the Medicare plans. This enrollment is provided through the Social Security Administration. The IEP provides a seven-month window to register for an original Medicare plan. This period starts three months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends three months after the month of your 65th birthday.
- General Enrollment Period (GEP)
The General Enrollment Period, or GEP, is another viable option to consider in case you missed your AEP. You can enroll in Medicare Part B during GEP, which lasts from January 1st to March 31st every year. Furthermore, if you missed your initial enrollment period deadline and have to pay a premium for Medicare Part A, you will need to sign up for Medicare Part A during the GEP. There are a couple of drawbacks to this option as well. First, you might be subjected to a late enrollment penalty. And second, you will not receive your coverage benefits until the start of the next month.
- Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is another good option to look at to meet your health coverage needs in case you missed your AEP deadline. You can enroll during the Medicare Advantage Enrollment Period, which opens every year from January 1st to March 31st. you can also review your healthcare needs and make amendments to your coverage plan in case you are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan. However, you can face some restrictions. For instance, once you switch your coverage plan during the opening period of the Medicare Advantage Enrollment, your chosen plan will stay in place for the rest of the year. In addition, the Medicare Advantage Enrollment Period provides an excellent opportunity to look for the newly available healthcare options, avail yourself of broader coverage options, or change the plan you recently opted for, but that does not fully meet your healthcare needs.
- Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period
The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is another option to review in case you have missed your AEP. But you will need to meet specific requirements to be eligible to get enrolled during this period. The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment window lasts only six months, starting on your 65th birthday. Furthermore, you can only enroll in a Medicare supplement Plan if you already have enrollment for Medicare Part A and Part B. Keep in mind that you will get this chance only once in your life.
- Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
Special Enrollment Period or SEP allows you to get healthcare coverage outside the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). However, you can only become eligible to enroll in healthcare insurance coverage if you face a certain qualifying incidence. For example, you can become eligible for the SEP if one of the following scenarios happens:
- Losing your health coverage
- Changing your residence
- Your household income falls below a certain amount
- Qualify for state assistance
The time frame for the opening of the Special Enrollment Period varies according to the event you face.
Having your healthcare needs covered through a viable health insurance plan is vital. One essential part of taking care of your health coverage is to be aware of their opening timelines, such as AEP. It will help you enroll in a new healthcare plan, modify the existing program, and promptly take care of your healthcare needs. In case you miss your AEP, there are plenty of other options for you to consider. Make sure to take advantage of these opening windows and get a suitable healthcare plan according to your specific needs.