The AEP Annual Medicare Enrollment Period

OEP and AEP Medicare

2019 AEP and OEP Medicare Basics

If you’re age 65 or older and you are enrolled in Medicare for your health insurance coverage, then it’s likely that you have started receiving information that pertains to Medicare’s upcoming yearly enrollment period.

Medicare’s open enrollment, which is often referred to as the Annual Election Period, or AEP, for selecting or changing your 2019 coverage runs each year from October 15 to December 7.

During this time period, you can switch from Original Medicare (which is another name for Medicare Part A and Part B) and Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) to a Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan, or vice versa.
But unlike in years prior, there have been some significant changes for 2019 in terms of enrolling, dis-enrolling, and making various other changes to your Medicare coverage.

Changes to Medicare’s Enrollment for 2019

Starting in 2019, there will be a new Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period. This time frame will start on January 1st (2019) and run through March 31st. During that period, those who are enrolled in Medicare Advantage will have a one-time opportunity to do the following:

  • Change to a different Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan
  • Cancel their Medicare Advantage coverage and return to Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare)
  • Enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan – provided that the individual will also be enrolled in Original Medicare coverage
  • Cancel their Medicare Part D stand-alone prescription drug plan1

Some Considerations Before You Change to a Different Medicare Plan

Before moving forward with making any changes to your Medicare coverage, there are some key items that you should consider. For instance, if you are currently a Medicare Advantage plan member, you may be receiving benefits that are not offered via Original Medicare. These may include vision, dental, and / or wellness-related items.

Likewise, you may also be receiving prescription drug benefits through your Medicare Advantage plan, whereas this type of coverage must be purchased separately if you are an Original Medicare enrollee.

On the other hand, what may have started out as an ideal plan for you through Medicare Advantage, may no longer be fitting your needs. This could be because the plan’s benefits have changed and / or because you have determined that you are not using some or all of the coverage you are paying for.

With that in mind, before you sign on the dotted line and change over to a different Medicare health care plan, make note of all of the benefits that you are giving up, as well as the benefits that you would receive in a new plan.

Likewise, be sure that you also add up all of the potential out-of-pocket costs that you may be responsible for in either of these scenarios. This doesn’t just pertain to the monthly premium, though, but also to any of the possible copayment, coinsurance, and / or deductible charges that you may be required to pay.

It can also be beneficial for you to discuss your health care coverage needs with a professional who has a focus on Medicare health care benefits. That way, you can be more assured that you will get your questions answered before your commit to your decision.

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Author Bio: Ben started Prepare for Medicare in 2014 to help people help people get objective answers to questions about Medicare. He’s held leadership roles at numerous Fortune 500 Medicare health insurers in product development, sales, marketing and strategy for over 20 years.