What is the Medicare Advantage Annual Enrollment Period?
The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is when Medicare beneficiaries can join, drop or change Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. AEP begins on October 15 and ends on December 7.1Medicare.gov, “Joining a health or drug plan“, Accessed September 25, 2021
- The Annual Enrollment Period starts October 15 and ends December 7.
- During the AEP Medicare beneficiaries can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage and vice versa.
- Beneficiaries can also join or drop a Medicare Part D plan for prescription drug coverage.
- The Annual Enrollment Period is specific to Medicare Advantage and Part D plans and is not the same as the Open Enrollment Period or General Enrollment Period.
During the Annual Enrollment Period, beneficiaries can join, drop, or switch Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans. If a beneficiary drops a Medicare Advantage plan and does not join a new one, they will automatically go back to Original Medicare.1Medicare.gov, “Joining a health or drug plan“, Accessed September 25, 2021
The AEP, sometimes called the Medicare Fall Open Enrollment Period, is not the same as the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (January 1 to March 31), nor is it the same as the General Enrollment Period (January 1 to March 31). These enrollment periods have different purposes and different rules.1Medicare.gov, “Joining a health or drug plan“, Accessed September 25, 2021
Even if a beneficiary’s current Medicare coverage meets their needs, it is worth looking into other options available in their area. Look to see whether there are any other plans in their area that offer better health or drug coverage at a lower price. Part D beneficiaries can reduce their annual costs by shopping between plans to find one with fewer restrictions and/or lower prices.
If a beneficiary is dissatisfied with a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan they chose during AEP, they can change their plan during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP). However, they cannot use this period to switch back to Original Medicare.
The Annual Enrollment Period does not apply to Medicare supplement insurance (Medigap). Beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B can add, switch, or cancel a Medigap policy at any time. If a beneficiary does not have guaranteed issue rights, medical underwriting may be required.
- 1Medicare.gov, “Joining a health or drug plan“, Accessed September 25, 2021