This year’s Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP) is just around the corner. The dates for Medicare AEP are October 15th through December 7th. If the term AEP is new for you, read our blog on the basics for what this time of year means!
For folks on Medicare, this can be a very confusing and overwhelming time.
Advertisements on the radio and television are constantly spewing so much information, and it can be difficult to determine which messages you need to give your time and attention (if any!).
Here are five tips to help you figure out what to do during this year’s Medicare AEP!
1. Do not make any changes to your current Medicare plan without talking to your agent.
If you signed up for a Medicare plan directly with an insurance company, you most likely don’t have a dedicated agent. Additionally, you may not have an unbiased resource to ask questions and advocate for you and your best interests.
Similarly, if an agent signed you up for your Medicare plan and you haven’t heard from them since, that also means you don’t have an agent. YOU NEED AN AGENT!
It is so important to have a Medicare agent who is dedicated to customer service that you hear from every single year to contact with questions or when your medical needs change.
Don’t fret. There are plenty of well-respected Medicare agents in the community, and many of us are licensed nationwide. We would love to assist you, so ask around! Ask your kids, colleagues, banker, doctor, pharmacist and/or financial planner for a Medicare agent referral.
You want to work with an independent Medicare agent who can provide you options across multiple plans with multiple carriers. Without accurate information, if you switch your current Medicare plan you may be charged more while receiving less coverage.
Unknowingly, you may switch out of a comprehensive Medicare plan with full medical coverage and financial security and not be able to get it back.
2. Know what Medicare plan you are enrolled in.
It’s so important to know what plan you are on.
How can you know if you need to make changes if you don’t know what plan you are currently enrolled in? You can’t!
At the very least, it won’t be an informed decision. Again, without accurate information you may be charged more while getting less coverage without an opportunity to get it back.
There are two main ways to obtain Medicare; Original Medicare and a Supplement or a Medicare Advantage Plan. You need to know which one you have to know if you need to make changes during AEP. If you are unaware, there are a couple ways to find out.
- One option is to look on your personal Medicare.gov portal. If you have not created an account, it takes only a few minutes to set up. Follow this step-by-step tutorial on how to set it up.
Once you are in your personal Medicare.gov portal, you will be able to see exactly what Medicare plan you are on as well as what Part D prescription drug plan you are enrolled in.
- Another option is to call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and ask the representative to confirm which Medicare plan you are enrolled in.
- The third option is to call your agent, which for some would be their first option.
3. DO NOT believe everything you hear and see.
The advertisements on the radio and television during Medicare’s AEP can be misleading and confusing.
Many portray blanket statements of “free” services that are inaccurate for most service areas. The fine print in these advertisements is usually hard to see and not said out loud, so don’t be fooled.
Go back to tip number one – don’t make any changes without talking to a trusted Medicare advisor.
4. Supplement Plans (Under Original Medicare) DO NOT change year to year and are NOT affected by Medicare’s AEP.
If you are on a supplement plan, you have an alphabetically lettered plan, for example G, F, L, N, etc.
Supplement plans are standardized nationwide and do not change their benefits each year and have no lock in period. The same coverage and benefits you received last year are the same the next coming year and the years to come.
Again, this is because the supplement plans under Original Medicare are standardized and do not change.
5. Medicare Advantage Plan and Prescription Drug plans change their coverage every year, and AEP is about these plans!
The Medicare Advantage plans, and Prescription Drug plans are renegotiated each year. AEP is your one chance to make changes.
So, if you are on a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Prescription Drug plan, this is the time for you to review those plans and determine if you should stay on the plan as is, or switch to a plan with different (ideally more cost effective) coverage.
This is also the one time of year for those who are on a Medicare Advantage plan, to switch back into Original Medicare if so desired.
And what’s the best way to do this? If you are following my pattern, you know the answer already, number one above ! Talk to your agent! Or find a respected one in the community.
6. Bonus tip! Do not wait until the last week of AEP to take care of this.
Medicare’s AEP runs from October 15th through December 7th.
This is the busiest time of year for Medicare insurance agents, insurance companies, and the Social Security offices. As a result, everything takes longer to process, and response times are much slower. Company websites even crash because everyone is logging into the portals at the same time!
It is important to give yourself extra time for delays. My professional advice is to have your AEP options taken care of before the Thanksgiving holiday.
That allows ample time to work with an agent (starting mid October) to review your options. If enrolling in a new plan is in your favor, this timeline gives you, the agent, social security, and the insurance company, time to get it all processed.
Yes, it is Medicare AEP Time!
If you get one final takeaway from our blog today, do not make ANY changes to your Medicare plan based off of a random phone call, commercial on tv, or a radio broadcast.
Find a Medicare agent you can trust. Knowledge is the best defense you can have for your health and for your finances!
If you are reading this and recognizing you do not have an agent you feel comfortable calling or that would give you unbiased information, please feel free to reach out to us at JBird Insurance Group.
We are happy to provide complimentary Medicare plan reviews and offer help with Medicare information. As an independent agent, we offer honest advice specific to your situation. We aren’t tied to any insurance carrier, so we look at the entire market for you.
If you are reading this and worry about your parent or grandparent’s Medicare plan, feel free to reach out as well. There’s never any cost or obligation to work with Medicare Dana.
It is so important to look out for loved ones and our senior community. Unfortunately, the senior population is a prime target for all kinds of scams. Working together we can all contribute to providing quality resources to seniors and keep everyone financially safe and healthy.
Get in touch with us today and we’ll navigate this year’s Medicare AEP together!