Never Fear, the 2019 OEP Is Here!

Medicare Open Enrollment Period

Under most circumstances, you can make one additional change to your Medicare coverage for 2019 during the OEP

Although the Annual Election Period (AEP) for 2019 Medicare coverage ended on January 7, 2018, it does not necessarily mean that you’re completely out of luck fi you want to make a change in 2019.

The AEP ran from October 15th through December 7th of 2018. It was during this time you could make your annual change (if you wanted to) to your current Medicare coverage. This could have included moving from a Medicare Advantage (MAPD) plan back over to Original Medicare coverage (Medicare Part A and Part B) with a Medicare Part D plan or vice versa. You could also switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.

What Happens If You Missed the AEP?

With the holidays, it’s no wonder some folks simply missed the AEP.  Never fear, the OEP is here!  During the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP), there are some avenues that could still allow you to make some changes to your Medicare coverage without having to wait until the AEP next year.

The 2019 OEP runs from January 1st through March 31st in 2019. During this time, if you don’t like the plan you bought, or something else changed between last year and this year, you can make a few changes.  For example, let’s say you didn’t pay attention to the packet of plan changes your insurance company mailed you in September, and you were surprised by a new, higher copay you had to pay at the pharmacy.  Or, maybe your doctor’s copay went up, or they aren’t in your network any longer.  Now’s the time to consider a change.

Please note you can only make a change ONE TIME during the OEP.  (In other words, once you have made a change to your Medicare coverage using your OEP, that’s it for the year.  You may not go back in during this same time frame and make still other changes).

Here’s and example of what you can’t do:  Let’s say you move from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare on February 1st and pick up a Medicare Part D plan to cover your prescription drugs.

That’s it for the year.  You’re out of your OEP choices.  Even if you change your mind, you cannot change your plan again on March 1st of the same year and go back into a Medicare Advantage plan.  In that scenario, you’d have to wait until the AEP rolls around between October 15 and December 7 in 2019.

That said, you better have a really good reason and understanding of what benefits you will have in your new plan, as well as what you may be giving up, before switching plans – and from there you can determine whether or not a change will truly be beneficial for you.

What Medicare Plan Can I Change To During the OEP?

Glad you asked.  Here are the types of changes you can make during the OEP.  Remember, during the 2019 OEP, you’re able to make “like plan” changes between January 1st and March 31st.  If you have the insurance plan type on the left, then you can make a change to the plan type on the right. For example, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, (MAPD) you can go to another MAPD plan.  Follow?  Good.

  • MAPD to MAPD
  • MAPD to Original Medicare and a Part D
  • Original Medicare and a Part D to MAPD
  • MA Only plan to MA Only plan
  • MA Only plan to Original Medicare
  • Original Medicare to MA Only plan

Remember!  The OEP will be a one-time use election period, so you’re limited to just one change during the 3 month window. Policy effective dates will be first of the following month after you sign.

For more on the 2019 Medicare OEP, click here.

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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.