No, making changes to your coverage during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is optional. If you are happy with your coverage, you can simply let your plan renew for the following year. You may, however, find it beneficial to review your coverage options during that time of year, to make sure you have the best plan available.
What Can You Do During the AEP?
The Annual Enrollment Period comes every year from October 15 to December 7. Any changes you make to your Medicare coverage during the AEP will go into effect January 1.
If you have Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) and want to join a Medicare Advantage plan, the AEP is your time to do so. Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B can sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan if they live within its coverage area. The only limit to signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan is that you cannot have both Medicare Advantage and a Medicare Supplement. If you’ve chosen a Medicare Supplement and are unsatisfied with it, you can switch to a Medicare Advantage plan within the first 12 months.
You could also add a Medicare Part D plan during Medicare AEP if you have Original Medicare. Many Medicare Advantage plans have built-in prescription drug coverage, so you can evaluate those plans as well when selecting your drug coverage.
If you are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan, you can use the Medicare AEP to switch to a different plan, or drop your plan and return to Original Medicare, with or without drug coverage.
Who Can Use the Medicare AEP?
Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B can use the AEP to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan if they live within the plan’s coverage area. Beneficiaries can also use the AEP to sign up for a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. You must already be enrolled in Medicare to use the AEP; if you are eligible for Medicare but haven’t enrolled for coverage, you can do so during General Enrollment from January 1 to March 31.
Why Take Advantage of the AEP?
The Medicare AEP offers Medicare beneficiaries the chance to select plans with the most coverage at the lowest prices. As a beneficiary, this gives you power to compare your options and make the best choice for Medicare coverage every year. For assistance in comparing the available Medicare coverage in your area, speak with the agents at Magellan Healthcare.