Insurance enrollment periods allow you to make a decision on your health coverage for the upcoming year. This applies to Medicare insurance as well.
Four Medicare-related enrollment periods that all take place at different times and allow you to do different things include:
- Annual Election Period (AEP)
- Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP)
- Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
- Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
Understanding the differences between each enrollment period is often a point of confusion for Seniors. This blog will focus on the difference between the Annual Election Period (AEP) and Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP).
First, for some context, let’s talk about how you initially enroll in Medicare when you turn 65.
What do I do when I turn 65?
Most choose to enroll in Medicare when they become eligible at age 65. You are first able to sign up for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
Your IEP occurs when you’re first eligible to enroll in Medicare. IEP takes place for seven months total
, during the:
- 3 months preceding your 65th birthday month,
- month of your 65th birthday, and
- 3 months following your 65th birthday month
Medicare-eligible persons usually have two options to choose from that they can enroll in
during their IEP:
- A Medicare Advantage plan; or
- Original Medicare
Once enrolled in Medicare, Medicare beneficiaries sometimes wish to make changes to the way they receive their Medicare coverage for a variety of reasons. The Annual Election Period (AEP)
and Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP)
allow Medicare beneficiaries to make changes to the way they receive their Medicare coverage.
Annual Election Period (AEP)
AEP pertains to Medicare beneficiaries looking to change their current coverage. It takes place every year from October 15 to December 7
AEP allows you to make these changes to the way you receive your Medicare benefits:
- Change from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare.
- Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan*.
- Join, drop, or switch a Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan.
*with or without prescription drug coverage
Read more about AEP
If for some reason you are not satisfied with the change you made during AEP, you have one more yearly opportunity to make changes to the way you receive your Medicare coverage during Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP)
(provided you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan).
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP)
MA OEP pertains to Seniors who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. It takes place every year from January 1 to March 31
MA OEP allows Seniors enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan
to make a one-time change to the way they receive their Medicare benefits by the following:
- Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan*
- Switch to Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) and add a Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan if desired
*with or without prescription drug coverage
If you have Original Medicare with or without Medicare Part D (prescription drug) coverage, you can’t make any changes to your Medicare coverage during MA OEP.
Two key differences between AEP and MA OEP:
- You can make a greater number of changes during AEP than MA OEP.
You can only make a single change
during the MA OEP.
Unlike during AEP, you can not make the following changes during MA OEP:
- Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.
- Join a Medicare Part D (prescription drug) if you’re in Original Medicare.
- Switch from one Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan to another if you’re in Original Medicare.
- MA OEP does not apply to Seniors with Original Medicare.
AEP allows Seniors with Original Medicare to make changes to their Medicare coverage. MA OEP does not.
Read more about the difference between Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement insurance policies paired with Original Medicare.
You can change the way you receive your Medicare coverage if you are unsatisfied with it.
Remember that you have a choice about how you receive the Medicare coverage you are entitled to. Enrollment periods let you change how that coverage is delivered to you if you are unhappy with it or want to change it for any reason. The coverage you need is entirely dependent on your specific life snapshot (health, lifestyle, budget, age, etc.).
AEP and MA OEP allow Seniors to make changes to the way they receive the Medicare benefits.
Learn more about Medicare, including enrollment periods, at medicare.gov
. Or, speak to a licensed insurance agent. Working with an agent ensures you get one-on-one guidance tailored to your needs.