Medicare Open Enrollment – Here Are Your Options

Medicare Open Enrollment, known as the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) started this past Monday (October 15) and will last until December 7, 2018.

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What can you do During Medicare Open Enrollment?

There are many changes you can make to your Medicare plan during this time. Health insurance broker, Louise Norris offers a good overview.

Here’s what you need to know – Delmar’s Medicare Open Enrollment 101, simplified:

Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage

If you have an Original Medicare plan (A or B) and would like to upgrade to a Medicare Advantage plan, now’s your chance.

Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare

If you’d like to downgrade your Medicare Advantage plan to a regular Medicare plan, you can do it during the Annual Enrollment Period as well.

Between Medicare Advantage plans

Medicare Advantage offers different plans to suit your healthcare needs. What you chose last year may not be what your looking for this year. The AEP allows you to update your plan based on your current situation.

Between Medicare D plans

Medicare Part D plans offer you drug coverage. If you have an existing D plan and would like to switch to another D plan, go for it.

Enroll in a Medicare D plan

If you didn’t enroll in Medicare Part D when you became eligible and would like to do so now, you can, but you may be subject to a late enrollment fee.

No changes

Finally, you may just be content with your current plan. If so, you don’t need to do anything.

There are a couple of things to consider, though, warns Norris:

  • Medicare plans aren’t static. Your plan may be subject to changes, like higher premiums or different benefits then last year.
  • Another possibility is the discontinuation of your current plan. If this happens, you’ll get a notification and will need to find something else.

Differences Between Open Enrollment and General Enrollment

Another Medicare enrollment period is between January 1 to March 31. This is known as the General Enrollment Period (GEP).

Here’s what you can do during the GEP and how it differs from the AEP.

Original Medicare (A and B)

You can sign up for Original Medicare during a 7-month timeframe known as the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP).

If you passed up on the opportunity, you get another chance during the GEP. Be aware that this may cost you a late enrollment penalty, though.

Another caveat, if you have to buy Original Medicare, you can only do so during a valid enrollment period.

Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare

Like the AEP, the GEP allows you to switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare – but you need to buy a part D supplement plan.

Between Medicare Advantage plans

2019 brings more options than before. Thanks to the 21st Century Cures Act (Section 17005), you will now be able to switch between Medicare Advantage plans between January 1 to March 31 too.

Amount of Changes

Despite the options of the GEP, you are limited to one change during this period. Open Enrollment, however, offers you much more flexibility. So feel free to make multiple changes until you get it right.

How do you plan on utilizing Medicare Open Enrollment?

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