November 15, 2023 By Bob Viñal

Medicare's Annual Election Period is Happening Now: Here's What It Means for Medicare Recipients


Medicare's Annual Election Period (AEP) is a crucial time for millions of Medicare recipients across the United States. This annual event allows you to review and make changes to your Medicare coverage, ensuring that you have the most suitable healthcare plan(s) for the upcoming year. So, what does the AEP mean for you, and why is it important?

Here’s what you can do during AEP:

Review and Adjust Your Medicare Coverage.  The AEP, which runs from October 15 to December 7 each year, gives Medicare recipients the opportunity to review their existing healthcare plans. This includes Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), Medicare Advantage (Part C), and prescription drug coverage (Part D). It's a chance to make changes to your plan, switch to a different plan, or enroll in additional coverage.

Evaluate Your Healthcare Needs. During the AEP, it's essential to assess your healthcare needs and any changes in your health status. Consider whether your current plan still meets your requirements in terms of doctors, specialists, hospitals, prescription drugs, and any specific services you may need.

Compare Plans. Medicare recipients should take advantage of this period to explore their options. Medicare Advantage plans can differ significantly in terms of benefits, premiums, and network coverage. This is especially true with regard to geographic area, as Advantage plans depend upon local networks. Those who choose Medicare Advantage should keep that fact in mind if they are considering a move in the future. 

Part D plans can vary in terms of covered medications and costs. The AEP allows you to compare and choose a plan that aligns with your preferences and needs.

Enroll in or Switch to Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage plans often bundle hospital and medical coverage and may also include prescription drug coverage. These plans offer coverage within a network of providers in your area, whereas Original Medicare covers medical care nationwide. Review the available options and make an informed decision.

Drop Medicare Advantage and Return to Original Medicare. During AEP, beneficiaries can drop their Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare. 

Reevaluate Part D Prescription Drug Plans.  The cost of prescription medications can be a significant concern for many Medicare beneficiaries. During the AEP, you can switch or enroll in a Part D plan that covers your specific medications at a cost that suits your budget. Be sure to check your current plan’s formulary (list of covered drugs) to be sure your prescriptions are still covered next year. If not, or if you want to investigate your options, you can compare it with other Part D plans (or Advantage plans that include Part D coverage). 

You May Want to Consider a Medicare Supplement Plan (MediGap)

If you have concerns about your coverage limitations, a Medicare Supplement (also known as MediGap) plan can help to close gaps. However, beneficiaries can only enroll in MediGap plans during their initial Medicare enrollment window and each year thereafter can make changes during their birthday month. Still, we can discuss that need and plan ahead to enroll in or change a MediGap plan when your birthday approaches. 

Some final words of wisdom…

Seek Professional Guidance. If you find the process of reviewing and choosing Medicare plans overwhelming, don't hesitate to seek help from a Medicare specialist or insurance agent. They can offer guidance and advice to ensure you make the most informed decisions. Remember, this help is free to all Medicare beneficiaries. Give us a call right away, and we’ll get started. 

About Author

Bob Viñal

Bob Viñal has been working in the insurance industry for more than 30 years, handling everything from plan design to claims and rating structures.

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