The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) , also referred to as the Annual Election Period, is imperative because it allows you to make changes to your plan each year. Your Annual Enrollment Period begins October 15th and ends December 7th.
What Changes Can Be Made During The AEP?
Between October 15th and December 7th, you have the option to make several different changes to your Medicare coverage. These options include:
- Switching from Medicare Advantage back to Original Medicare
- Joining a Medicare Advantage plan
- Switching from one Medicare Advantage plan for another
- Enrolling in a Medicare Part D plan
- Switching from one Part D plan for another
- Canceling your prescription drug coverage completely
The changes made during your Annual Enrollment Period will take effect on January 1st of the following year.
Should I Make Changes During The Annual Enrollment Period?
Due to the ever-changing benefits and fluctuating premiums provided by Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D plans, you may consider changing your plan during your AEP. Your plan’s premium may increase from year to year, or your doctor may become out-of-network in your Advantage plan. Your drug formulary provided by Medicare Part D may even drop your required medication from their coverage list.
In September, you receive an Annual Notice of Change from your insurance carrier explaining the changes that will happen to your current plan in the following year. If these changes do not provide the coverage you need, then you can simply change plans during AEP.
What Factors Should I Consider During My Annual Enrollment Period?
There are many factors to consider when deciding if you want to change Medicare Advantage plans or Medicare Part D plans during your Annual Enrollment Period, but there are seven major ones that you must be aware of when deciding:
- Monthly premium increases
- Drug formulary changes
- Predicted annual medical costs
- If your doctor is still in your plan’s network of providers
- Ancillary benefits
- Plan ratings
If you’re concerned with your monthly premium increasing, you should refer to your Annual Notice of Change to compare your current premium with next year’s premium.
Your drug formulary may also change. Your formulary for your drug plan consists of pricing tiers that your provider places drugs in. Ensure that your medication will be covered in the following year, and ask about the cost of it.
Estimate Your Yearly Healthcare Costs
To predict your annual medical costs, make a list of doctor visits and procedures you predict will occur in the following year. Of course, you can’t predict certain things. But you can estimate what your out-of-pocket costs with your current plan would be. After you calculate that, add in a year’s worth of premiums and you will have an estimated amount for your annual medical costs.
You should always check to ensure that your physician will continue to be an in-network provider. If your plan changes and your doctor no longer falls into that category, then you’ll have to change plans or be responsible for higher out-of-pocket costs.
Do You Travel a lot?
If you’re a frequent traveler or reside in two places, it would be best to enroll in a plan with a nationwide network to ensure that you’re able to receive medical care or treatment if necessary.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) developed a star rating system to help compare Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D plans. They are ranked from one to five, with five being the highest score possible. Compare different plans’ rankings when deciding on the most beneficial plan for you.
Reach Out To Our Team Today
If you’re interested in making changes to your Medicare coverage during the Annual Enrollment Period, then don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our team will help you compare your plan options and will make sure you enroll in the coverage you need.