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What is the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)?

Plans change every year, and new plans become available. During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, a plan review ensures you’re on the right plan for your health and budget.

When is the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, also sometimes referred to as the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, runs from October 15 to December 7 annually.

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Why Change Your Medicare Coverage During the Annual Enrollment Period Window?

We recommend having your Medicare plan reviewed at least once a year. Why? Because Medicare plans can change every year.

Your current plan may change its contract with Medicare. Suddenly, doctors you have a relationship with or prescriptions you rely on will no longer be available. New plans could also become available in your county – ones that offer better benefits at a lower cost or higher-quality rating.

Even more importantly, if your health or budget needs change, your current plan may not work. These are all excellent reasons to have your plan reviewed during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period and make a plan change.

Are you satisfied with your current plan? Without looking at other Medicare options in your area, you’ll never know if there’s a plan better suited to your individual needs. That’s why we recommend everyone on Medicare has their plan reviewed during the Annual Enrollment Period.

What Changes Are Allowed During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is for people enrolled in Medicare Parts A & B.

Wondering when to enroll in Medicare for the first time? That is either during your Initial Enrollment Period, the General Enrollment Period, or a Special Enrollment Period. But it’s not during the Annual Enrollment Period.

Everyone enrolled in Medicare can make up to two changes during the Annual Enrollment Period. Here are the six plan coverage changes that are possible:

  1. You can switch to Original Medicare from a Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan.
  2. Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another – with or without prescription drug coverage.
  3. Unenroll in Original Medicare and enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.
  4. Enroll in a standalone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan.
  5. Change from one standalone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan to another.
  6. End your standalone Medicare Prescription Drug coverage (Medicare Part D).

How Do I Know if I Need to Make A Medicare Plan Change?

Review your Annual Notice of Change

Your Medicare provider should send you an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) every year. It will be mailed or emailed to you along with your plan’s Evidence of Coverage (EOC). You should receive these during September, but no later than September 30.

The Annual Notice of Change provides information about how your current plan will change in the coming year, effective January 1. At the same time, the Evidence of Coverage provides a more comprehensive list of the plan’s costs and benefits in the coming year.

It’s vital that you review your Annual Notice of Change and Evidence of Coverage to see how your plan changes. Your current doctors or specialists may change or your plan’s costs and coverage. Review the notice to ensure that your current plan will meet your health and budget needs in the coming year. If you don’t receive your Annual Notice of Change, you should contact your plan provider.

What Should I Consider When Choosing Medicare Coverage Annually?

You don’t need to use the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period to make a change. But you should speak with a local licensed agent to review insurance plans. After reviewing your Annual Notice of Change and Evidence of Coverage documents, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has my health changed?
  • Has my budget changed?
  • Will my Medicare plan still cover my preferred doctors and specialists?
  • Will my monthly premiums increase?
  • Will my out-of-pocket costs increase?

Consider these questions, and then speak with a local licensed agent to see if any new plan options are available in your area. Remember, every year, new plans become available. There may be a plan that provides better benefits at a lower cost.

When comparing your current plan with potential Medicare coverage options, question the following:

  • Does the plan have better benefits?
  • Does the plan accept my preferred doctors and specialists?
  • Does the plan have a higher Start Rating than my current plan?
  • Does the plan cover my prescription medications and maintain or lower my prescription drug costs?
  • Does the plan offer additional benefits that aren’t covered by Original Medicare Parts A & B? (e.g., dental, vision, hearing, gym membership, transportation or over-the-counter allowance, meal delivery, and more.)

We’ve created an ultimate guide for navigating the Annual Enrollment Period. Download the guide to understand the Annual Enrollment Period’s impact on your health and finances.

Agent tip: If you have a standalone prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D), your plan should be reviewed annually. There could be other Part D plans in your area that cover your prescriptions with fewer restrictions and/or lower prices.

How to Sign Up for Medicare During the Annual Enrollment Period for 2022

Once you have reviewed your Annual Notice of Change and compared plans with our Medicare plan comparison tool, we recommend you speak with a local licensed agent. Talking with an agent will reassure you that you’re making the most informed choice for your health and budget.

Have your Medicare card available and call (623) 223-8884 (TTY: 711) to schedule a time to speak with a local licensed Connie Health agent.

Can I Change My Mind and Pick A Different Plan?

Were you enrolled in a plan? Are you wondering if you can change your mind and enroll in another plan? The answer is yes.

If you enroll in a plan early within the Annual Enrollment Period (October 15 – December 7), you could have the opportunity to switch the plan again. We recommend reviewing your Annual Notice of Change and comparing your plan options early, so you have that choice. If you wait, the next time you can make a plan switch is during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period or a Special Enrollment Period, if you qualify.

Your Medicare Annual Enrollment Period Checklist

Still not sure if you need to make a change this Annual Enrollment Period (October 15 – December 7)? Answer ten simple yes or no questions about your health needs, finances & healthcare costs, and your Medicare plan to know whether you need to make a change. Download the free and no-obligation Medicare Annual Enrollment Period Checklist.

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Speak with a local licensed insurance agent
David Luna Co-founder and
Licensed Insurance Agent
(623) 223-8884 (TTY: 711) Mon-Fri 8am-6pm
There's no obligation to enroll

Read more by David Luna

I am a Spanish-speaking Arizona Life and Health Insurance Licensed Agent and have been helping people with Medicare since 2005. I am a Marine Corps Veteran & former police officer. I enjoy watching football and basketball but hold family time in the highest regard.

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Speak with a local licensed insurance agent
David Luna Co-founder and
Licensed Insurance Agent
(623) 223-8884 (TTY: 711) Mon-Fri 8am-6pm
There's no obligation to enroll

New to Medicare? Start here.

The Essential Guide for Beginners
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