What’s the Difference Between the Medicare AEP and the Medicare General Enrollment Period?

Did you know that there is more than one type of Medicare enrollment period? When you first enroll in Medicare, this can seem confusing: for example, there is a Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, or AEP, an annual event during which you can make changes to your Medicare plan, but there is also the Medicare General Enrollment Period, or GEP, which runs at a different time and has a different purpose. It is important to differentiate between the two, so you don’t make a mistake and miss out on making necessary changes to your plan, or on possible savings.

What Is The Medicare AEP?

yellow sign with arrows and question marks at the end of the arrows
You have different options during the Medicare AEP, and can make a change to better suit your needs.

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period runs every year from October 15th to December 7th. During this time, Medicare beneficiaries who are already enrolled in Medicare can make changes to their Medicare coverage. If you do decide to switch plans during the AEP, your new plan will go into effect on January 1st, but you don’t have to make any changes if you are satisfied with your current plan. 

During the AEP, you can make the following changes:

  • Switch from Original Medicare (Parts A and B) to a Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare, as well as enroll in Part D or a Medicare Supplement Plan alongside Original Medicare when you switch
  • Switch your current Medicare Advantage Plan to a different one
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes drug coverage to one that does not
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that does not include drug coverage to one that does

What Is The Medicare GEP?

sign with 2 signs on the pole that say chance on each of them
The Medicare GEP offers you a second chance to enroll in Medicare in case you missed the opportunity to sign up for Medicare.

Now to take a look at the Medicare General Enrollment Period, or GEP, which runs every year from January 1st to March 31st. If you missed the opportunity to sign up for Medicare Parts A or B when you were first eligible to, this time of year is your chance to do so. Once you enroll in a plan, your coverage will begin on July 1st.

If you did not enroll in Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period when you turned 65 years old, you should absolutely take advantage of this time. Keep in mind, though, that while the GEP is a second chance to enroll in Medicare, you will still have to pay a Part B late fee, which is based on how many years you went without enrolling after turning 65.

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is a very important time for you to look for a plan that better suits your needs, and save some money. Right before the AEP starts in October, you should take the time to review your Medicare Annual Notice of Change, which is a letter you will receive noting any changes to your coverage and benefits that will take effect next year. You should think about what you most need covered, as well as check your plan’s drug formulary to make sure your medications will still be covered, and if you find that your current plan will not meet your needs next year, you’ll need to begin searching for a new Medicare plan. If you need help comparing plans, EZ can help – we will provide you with an agent who will compare plans in your area for free. No obligation. To get free instant quotes for plans that cover your current doctors, simply enter your zip code in the bar on the side, or to speak to a local licensed agent, call 888-753-7207.

About The Author:
Cassandra Love

With over a decade of helpful content experience Cassandra has dedicated her career to making sure people have access to relevant, easy to understand, and valuable information. After realizing a huge knowledge gap Cassandra spent years researching and working with health insurance companies to create accessible guides and articles to walk anyone through every aspect of the insurance process.

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