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5 Things to Know About AEP

The more you know about AEP, the better prepared you can be for it. Read about the five things every Medicare beneficiary should know about the Annual Enrollment Period.

Christian Worstell

by Christian Worstell | Published October 09, 2023 | Reviewed by John Krahnert

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) lasts from October 15 to December 7 each year. This enrollment period is also called the fall Medicare Open Enrollment Period.

Preparation is key to making the most of your AEP, so below we’ve compiled five things to know about this time of year. 

1. The Annual Enrollment Period is commonly known as AEP or the Fall Open Enrollment Period.  

There are multiple Medicare enrollment periods, many of which come with their own acronym. AEP stands for “Annual Enrollment Period” and is considered the biggest one of them all. 

Many people refer to AEP as the “Fall Open Enrollment Period.”

Other Medicare enrollment periods include the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), Special Enrollment Period (SEP) and Medigap Open Enrollment Period.

2. While you can apply for a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan at any time, certain other coverage changes can only be made during AEP. 

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period only applies to Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) and Medicare Part D plans. During AEP, you can enroll in, switch or disenroll from Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D.

Medicare Supplement Insurance enrollment is different. You will be granted a one-time Medigap Open Enrollment Period when you first become eligible, and may then enroll, disenroll or change plans at your leisure thereafter. 

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that you are only granted protection from medical underwriting during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period or during another period when you have guaranteed issue rights.

3. If you’d like to add a prescription drug plan to your coverage, you typically must do so during AEP. 

There are only two types of Medicare plans that include coverage for retail prescription drugs: Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) and Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans (MA-PD).

If you did not enroll in either type of plan during your Initial Enrollment Period, then AEP will most likely be your next opportunity to do so. 

Medicare Part D provides coverage exclusively for prescription drugs and may be paired with Original Medicare and a Medicare Supplement plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t include drug coverage.

4. AEP does not affect your underwriting for Medicare Supplement Insurance.   

Enrolling in Medicare Supplement Insurance during AEP does not exempt you from medical underwriting unless you have guaranteed issue rights.

Guaranteed issue rights keep you immune from medical underwriting. Outside of your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, you might not have guaranteed issue rights unless you have a qualifying life experience such as needing to replace an employer-provided health plan that’s ending or losing your previous Medicare plan through no fault of your own.

If you apply for a plan when you don’t have guaranteed issue rights, health insurance companies have the right to charge you higher premiums because of poor health or certain conditions. They even have the right to refuse you coverage entirely.

Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period lasts for six months and begins the first month you are enrolled in Medicare Part B and are at least 65 years old.

5. If you have a Medicare Supplement plan and don’t want to make any changes, there is nothing you have to do.

Medicare Supplement Insurance plans automatically renew every year if you pay your premiums on time. So if you are happy with your coverage and do not wish to change anything, there is nothing you have to do at the end of the year.

Plus, Medigap plans are guaranteed renewable. That means as long as you continue to pay your premiums, the insurance company must continue to provide you with the plan coverage.

Compare Medigap plans in your area.

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