Medicare Annual Enrollment Period FAQ

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is here, and if this is your first time experiencing it, you might have a lot of questions about what you need to do. It’s important to get answers to your questions, because you want to make sure you’re all set for next year with your Medicare plan; not being fully informed about the AEP and not taking full advantage of it could end up  costing you hundreds of dollars. To better prepare you for the AEP, we have gathered and answered some of the most frequently asked questions that we get this time of year. 

What Is the AEP?

calendar with the date october 15
The AEP begins October 15 and ends December 7.

The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is a yearly enrollment period, during which you can review your current Medicare plan and coverage, and make changes to that plan if it no longer meets your needs. The changes you can make to your Medicare coverage include adding, dropping, or switching plans. 

When Is The AEP?

The Medicare AEP runs every year from October 15 to December 7. 

Do I Have To Change My Coverage?

No, you don’t have to make any changes to your current Medicare plan if you are satisfied with it, but you do need to look out for any upcoming changes to your plan for the new year, and compare plans to make sure you are getting the benefits you need at an affordable price. 

How Do I Enroll In A Medicare Plan During The AEP?

You can enroll in a Medicare plan by comparing plans and choosing one yourself, but it is best to work with a trained Medicare agent, otherwise you risk overlooking a great, money-saving plan. EZ’s Medicare agents can offer you guidance through the whole process, and can compare all the available Medicare options available to you from the top-rated insurance companies in the country. 

What Changes Are Allowed?

During the AEP, you can:

  • Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan or vice versa.
  • Add a Medicare Supplement Plan if you switch to Original Medicare.
  • Change your Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Join a Medicare prescription drug plan or pick a new drug plan

What’s The Difference Between Original Medicare & Medicare Advantage?

woman in a blue button up with her hands up shrugging and a question mark on over each hand
Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans have different coverage options and pricing, so it is important to go over both.

Original Medicare is coverage offered by the federal government and has 2 parts: Part A and Part B. Part A is hospital insurance that covers inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility, lab tests, surgery, and home health care, and is normally premium-free (as long as you worked 10 years and paid Medicare taxes). Part B is medical insurance that covers doctor services, outpatient care, medical equipment, home health care, and some preventive services, and has a monthly premium based on your income.

Medicare Advantage Plans, also called Medicare Part C, are offered by private insurance companies in contract with the federal government. They include coverage under Medicare Parts A and B, as well as other benefits like dental, hearing, vision, and/or prescription drug coverage. Many Medicare Advantage Plans have a $0 premium; if you enroll in a plan that does charge a premium, you pay this in addition to your Part B premium.

Can I Change My Medicare Plan Outside of The AEP?

The answer to this question is: it depends. For example, if something changes in your life, like you’ve moved outside of your plan’s coverage area, or if you lose coverage for another reason, you will have a Special Enrollment Period, meaning you will be able to make some changes. You do have the option to drop a Medicare Supplement Plan, prescription drug plan, or Medicare Advantage Plan whenever you want, but you can only join them or make changes during the AEP or if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. 

Note that if you want to change your Medicare Supplement Plan, you have the ability to do so within your 6-month Medicare Supplement Plan Enrollment Period, which is the month of your 65th birthday and the 5 months following. 

Get Medicare or AEP Help

Trying to figure out which plan is best for your needs can be complicated, so if you have questions or need help during the AEP, EZ.insure can help. We will provide you with a licensed local agent who will compare all available plans in minutes at no cost to you, and with no obligation. For more information on the AEP, or to get free instant quotes on plans that cover your current doctors, simply enter your zip code in the bar on the side, or to speak with an 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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