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The Difference Between Medicare AEP and Medicare Advantage OEP

Posted by David Ghiorso, CPA, December 16, 2020

For Medicare beneficiaries, all of the different types of Medicare and timelines for enrollment can get confusing. Here’s what you need to know about Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) versus the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP). Each of these enrollment periods occur annually but serve different purposes.

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period opens on October 15 and runs through December 7. Because Medicare plans begin on January 1 each year, this enrollment window offers all Medicare beneficiaries the opportunity to compare plans, take notice of changes to your current plan, research drug formularies, and learn whether your premiums will change for the upcoming year.

After you’ve made a decision about your plan, during AEP you can

    • Change from one Advantage plan to another
  • Drop your Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare
  • Move from Original Medicare to an Advantage plan
  • Enroll in Part D coverage, drop Part D coverage, or change from one Part D plan to another

If you elect any of these changes, they take effect on January 1. If you do nothing, you will be automatically re-enrolled into your current plan selections.

From January 1 to March 31 each year, only those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan can participate in an Open Enrollment Period.

During this time, you can change from one Advantage plan to another, or drop Advantage and go back to Original Medicare. You can also add, drop, or change a Part D plan (although many Advantage plans have this coverage built in). You can only make one change during this time period, and it will last until the following plan year.

The Annual Enrollment Period has now closed, as of December 7. However, those of you who are enrolled in an Advantage plan can make a necessary change beginning January 1 during the Open Enrollment Period. Contact your insurance broker to learn more.

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