What to Know about the Annual Election Period for Medicare Beneficiaries

clipboard with the words annual review

The AEP is the Annual Election Period for Medicare beneficiaries. AEP takes place every year from October 15 through December 7. Changes you make during this period become effective on January 1.

What can be changed during the Annual Election Period?

During this time, beneficiaries can change Part D prescription drug plans. You can choose to switch from one drug plan to another or even discontinue your prescription drug plan altogether.

If you have a Part C Medicare Advantage plan, you may switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another or switch to Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) during the AEP. You may also choose to switch from Original Medicare to one of the Medicare Advantage plans.

The AEP does not apply to Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plans.

How do I know if I should change plans?

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan, you will receive an “Annual Notice of Change” each year. You will need to review these changes and any price increases and see if the plan still fits your needs.

There are also times when entire plans may be discontinued, giving you no choice but to find a new plan.

The easiest way to decide if you should change plans is to speak with a licensed insurance agent (like us!). We will compare your current policy with the new ones and see if there is a better plan – both in coverage and price.

man meeting with insurance agent

How do I change my plan?

The easiest way to change plans is to call us at Sunflower Senior Solutions. If you already have a policy with us, we can make sure we are making the correct comparisons, considering any personal changes you may have had over the last year.

To avoid any delays, call to schedule an appointment before October 15.

What can I do if I miss the AEP?

Missing the AEP leaves you with limited options to make changes to your Medicare plan.

If you are currently enrolled in Medicare Advantage and want to change to Original Medicare, you can still do this during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP). The Open Enrollment Period runs from January 1 to March 31 every year.

If you choose this option, you have until March 31 to enroll in a Part D plan. While this coverage is optional, you may incur a late enrollment penalty if you forgo prescription drug coverage.

elderly woman on phone

The only other way you may be eligible to change plans outside of AEP is if you qualify for the Special Enrollment Period (SEP). There are very strict requirements to qualify for this. To be eligible for an SEP, you must have had at least one qualifying life event like one of the following:

  • Loss of current health insurance
  • Relocation outside of coverage area
  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Significant change in income

If none of these apply to you, unfortunately, there is no way to change your current plan.

It is imperative to review your Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage during the fall open enrollment period. If you have not scheduled your Annual Election Period review, give us a call and schedule a time to speak with a licensed agent today!

Dani is a licensed health and life insurance advisor. She is also the creator of everything you see on our social media accounts and runs Blaze Creative, a content-writing and copywriting agency designed specifically for Medicare brokers.

Leave a Comment