The Medicare Annual Election Period each autumn is a critical time for your healthcare coverage as a Medicare beneficiary. Here’s what you need to know:
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When Medicare’s Annual Election Period Happens
The Medicare Annual Election Period occurs every year from October 15th through December 7th. Open enrollment for other types of insurance often overlaps with this election period, so you need to look specifically for information about Medicare enrollment to make sure you’re seeing the right dates.
Since the Medicare Annual Election Period happens on the same dates every year, you can also add it to your calendar well in advance. Many insurance providers are open with longer hours and weekend availability during this period, so you should have plenty of opportunities to complete your research and any enrollment choices you want to make.
What the Enrollment Period is Called
You may see different names for the Medicare Election Period that occurs from October 15th through December 7th. Some names include:
- Medicare Annual Enrollment
- Medicare Open Enrollment
- Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Enrollment
- Abbreviated: AEP
The best way to find out if you’re reading or talking about the same enrollment period is to check the dates. If it’s October 15th through December 7th, that’s the Medicare Annual Election Period no matter which name may be used.
Bonus: Why is it called an election period?
A Medicare Election Period has nothing to do with the political elections that occur in November. It simply means that you can “elect” (choose) to change your Medicare coverage. It is interchangeable with an “Enrollment Period.”
Who is Eligible for This Election Period
All Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B (Original Medicare) are eligible to participate in this election or enrollment period. You should have a Medicare card with your enrollment dates listed so you can check your Parts A and B enrollment.
What You Can Do During the Medicare Annual Election Period
During Medicare’s Annual Election Period, you can enroll in, drop, or change your Medicare plan.
Enroll in: For example, if you are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B only, which cover hospital and doctor services, you may choose to enroll in a Medicare Part C plan during AEP. Part C Plans, also called Medicare Advantage Plans, bundle Parts A and B, usually with additional benefits like vision, dental, fitness, or prescription drugs. Some Part C Plans have $0 premiums or other cost-saving features.
Drop: If you are on a Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan in addition to Medicare Parts A and B, you can choose to drop that plan for the coming year.
Change: You may decide to use a combination of drop and enroll to change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, or from a Medicare Supplement plan to a Medicare Advantage plan during Medicare’s Annual Election Period.
How to Choose a Medicare Plan
You have several options for researching your Medicare plan options, with two common choices being online research or a telephone call with a licensed insurance agent.
We’ve also published a whole article about steps you can take to find a Medicare plan that fits your needs: 6 Tips for Finding a Medicare Plan During the Medicare Annual Election Period
Don’t Miss Out on Opportunities During AEP 2020
Remember, Medicare’s Annual Election Period runs from October 15th to December 7th and it is your opportunity to change your Medicare coverage for 2021! Take advantage of all the free resources here to make sure you have the coverage you deserve next year.
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