Now's the time to prepare for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), October 15 – December 7. AEP happens every year and is a time when you can make changes to your Medicare coverage.
During AEP you can join, switch or drop a Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription drug plan. Review your plan with your health, lifestyle and financial needs in mind to help you decide whether it's best to keep your current coverage or shop around for a better fit.
Below are helpful resources and information to help you feel confident and ready for AEP.
How Can I Prepare for Medicare Annual Enrollment?
There are few things you can do to get prepared for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period.
- Learn about Medicare AEP: First, it’s important to make sure you fully understand what annual enrollment is and what you can do during this time. READ: What is the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?
- Plan ahead for October 15: The second thing you can do is plan ahead. In this article, we offer some guidance and tips to help you get ready for Medicare AEP and feel confident walking in to October 15 when you can start making decisions.
- Watch your mailbox for your ANOC: If you have a Medicare plan already, around September you’ll receive what’s called a Medicare Plan Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). The ANOC comes from your plan provider and identifies upcoming plan changes such as cost or covered benefits. This is a very important item, so read “Medicare Plan Annual Notice of Change: What to Look For” to help familiarize yourself with what to look for and how to use your ANOC during AEP.
Should You Keep Your Current Medicare Coverage?
It's a good idea to review your Medicare coverage every year. You may have experienced changes in your health, finances or overall lifestyle in the last year. Deciding to keep your current coverage or shop around for something new comes down to answering one question, "Is this Medicare plan right for me?"
READ: Should You Change Your Medicare Plan?
Do I Have To Renew My Medicare Plan?
If you decide you want to keep your current Medicare plan, you may wonder if you need to renew. If you decide to keep your current Medicare coverage, you do not need to renew your enrollment in your plan. So long as you keep paying your plan premiums and costs, you’re good. You can read this article for more information about renewing during AEP.
If you wanted your same plan again but the provider no longer offers it, see below under switching Medicare plans for what to do.
Considering Switching Medicare Plans?
If you've decided to switch up your Medicare coverage, you're probably wondering what is right for you. You may want the same plan type but need different benefits now vs last year. You may have decided that you want a different type of Medicare experience altogether and be comparing different plans. You may not have wanted to change your plan, but the plan provider discontinued it so you must.
Tips for Medicare Caregivers
If you’re helping a friend or loved one during annul enrollment, the above resources and information are key. That being said, here is a blog specific for caregivers who are helping someone to make Medicare decisions during the Annual Enrollment Period.
Final Note: 5 Things to Know When Changing Your Coverage During Medicare AEP
- You can drop a Medicare Advantage plan for Original Medicare, but if you do, you'll also lose the prescription drug coverage that was included with your Medicare Advantage plan (if your Medicare Advantage plan included drug coverage).
- If you go back to Original Medicare, you'll need to get a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan (PDP) to get prescription drug coverage. Here are 5 tips to help you pick one.
- You can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage. If you do, you may be disenrolled from a stand-alone Part D plan if you have one as most Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage.
- You can add a Part D prescription drug plan if you already have Original Medicare or certain Medicare Advantage plans.
- You can drop your current Part D or Medicare Advantage plan and enroll in a new one.