Are you confused about the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP)? If yes, you are not alone. You need to know what it is, when it is, and why it is so important. I will break it down and debunk some common misconceptions to you give clarity. It is important you understand AEP!
What is the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP)?
The Annual Election Period, AEP, is the one time of year you can make changes to your Part D Prescription drug plan. It is also the one time of year you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage plan. I am going to repeat that, AEP is the one time of year you can make changes to your Part D Prescription drug plan and your Medicare Advantage plan. Changes to your Medicare Advantage plan can either be switching into an Original Medicare with a supplement plan or switching to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
You may be asking, “What about original Medicare with a supplement, when can I make changes to that? This is a great question. The answer is that when you are on Original Medicare with a supplement, you can make changes any day of the year. This is one of the many differences between a having Medicare Advantage plan and having Original Medicare with a supplement.
Medicare Advantage Plans Lock You In!
If you are on a Medicare Advantage plan, you are locked into that plan for that year. The Annual Election Period (AEP) is the one and only time you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage plan. If you are on Original Medicare with a supplement, you can make changes to your plan any day of the year.
Confused About Your Medicare Coverage and Plan?
If you are not sure whether you are on Original Medicare with a supplement plan or a Medicare Advantage plan, you need to know! Knowing the type of plan, you are on is critically important. Your coverage and your entitlements are drastically different when on Original Medicare with a supplement versus a Medicare Advantage plan. If you have an insurance plan with an insurance company that has a letter associated with it, for example, Plan F, Plan G, Plan N, etc. this is a Medicare supplement plan for Original Medicare.
Your supplement plan automatically renews each month when you pay your premium. If you have Original Medicare with a supplement, you are guaranteed renewable if you pay your premiums. Medicare Advantage Plans are not guaranteed renewable.
Knowledge is Power. Lock in Your Medical and Financial security!
If you are confused as to what plan you have and to what you are entitled, please give me a call. I would be happy to assist and ensure you are aware of your plan details as well as the plan that best fits your medical and financial needs. You should know exactly what plan you are on, what your plan covers, and what costs are associated with your plan. Your medical and financial security is tied to your insurance plans. Therefore, knowing your plan inside and out is critically important.
If your insurance agent did not walk you through exactly what your plans cover and do not cover, they did you wrong. But it is now your responsibility to be sure you have a solid understanding. This way, if changes need to be made, you can make them in a timely and hopefully not too costly manner. Again, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, the time of year to make a change would be AEP.
When is the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP)?
The Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP) is from Oct. 15th – Dec. 7th. Changes you make to your plan during this time will go into effect January 1st of that next year. I am going to repeat that, AEP is from Oct. 15th – Dec. 7th. Changes you make to your plan during this time will go into effect January 1st of that next year. Remember this!
Save Money on Your Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans in AEP
As mentioned earlier, AEP is the one time of year to you can make changes to your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. It is critical that you review your current medications and drug plans during this time.
Why is this? Because each Medicare Part D provider has a formulary, a list of drugs that the insurance plan covers. The formulary is divided into levels, called “tiers.” The tiers are based on the cost of the medicine. The amount you pay each time you fill a prescription depends on the tier. Generally, the lower the tier, the lower your copay. The plans change their formularies each year, which affects the costs and tiers.
So, it is VERY IMPORTANT to check your drug plans annually during AEP. If you do nothing, your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan will auto renew for the next year. The issue with that, as mentioned above, is that formularies may change in your plan and can increase co-pays or premiums.
Part D drug plans are a wonderful way to customize your medical needs. If you are taking higher tiered drugs, you will want to find a plan that has the least copay for those drugs. Same goes if you are taking lower tired drugs. The idea being that you are not paying extra money for a plan that does not suit your needs. To save you the most money, each year, you should check the medications you are taking against the drug plans available and find the best fit.
Pharmacy Makes a Difference in Cost!
Pay attention to the pharmacies too, you always want to look at your ‘preferred’ pharmacy on your plan. The preferred pharmacy is where you save the most amount of money.