Medicare Mistake #6:
Misunderstanding the Annual Election Period
Medicare Annual Election/Open Enrollment is October 15th – December 7th every year
How to describe the season- Many people are confused about what to call the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP)
Thanks to Obamacare Open Enrollment Season, we now have four ways client describe it to us.
- Annual Election Period
- Annual Enrollment Period
- Open Election Period
- Open Enrollment Period
In fact, the Medicare enrollment period is officially called the Medicare “Annual Election Period” (AEP), and it extends from October 15 through December 7 this year. The under 65 ACA Obamacare season is called the “Open Enrollment Period” (OEP) and this year it begins November 1st and extends through January 31, 2017.
The reason it’s called “election period” instead of “enrollment period” is that Medicare enrollment is generally dictated by your birthday, when you turn 65. The Medicare Annual Election Period is when you can switch or change plans, thus changing your “elections”.
During the Annual Election Period, health insurance companies must accept applicants without regard to their health history or preexisting conditions. During this period, providers are allowed to change their plans. This means providers can change things such as cost, coverage, and pharmacies they use. This is why it is important to review your plan, and decide if the one want/have is right for you. If you change your plan, the new plan will go into affect on January 1st of the following year. It is important to carefully choose your plan, as most require you to stay with them for a full year.
If you currently have Original Medicare, during the Annual Election Period, you can:
- Switch to a Medicare Advantage plan with or without prescription drug coverage
- Join or drop a Medicare prescription drug plan
- Switch Medicare prescription drug plans
If you currently have a Medicare Advantage plan, during the Annual Election Period, you can:
- Switch to Original Medicare
- Switch Medicare Advantage plans
- Change to a Medicare Advantage plan that does not cover drugs
For current members, open enrollment affects those who want to change their coverage. If you are new to Medicare, you get your own enrollment period- either right after you turn 65, or up to eight months after extended employment.
Initial Enrollment Period is a seven month period that begins three months before you turn 65, and lasts four months after your birthday
General Enrollment Period is if you miss your Initial Enrollment Period. This is period is from January 1 through March 31 each year. Your coverage will begin July 1, and you may have to pay higher premiums for enrolling late.
Special Enrollment Period is if you, or your spouse, is employed and your health coverage is handled by the employer or union. When your coverage ends, you will have a Special Enrollment Period.
If you miss your personal deadlines because you are waiting for the Annual Election Period you risk delayed coverage and permanent late penalties.