What: Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)
Also known as the Annual Election Period or Medicare Open Enrollment
When: October 15 through December 7, 2019
Medicare beneficiaries have one guaranteed chance to make changes to their Medicare enrollment each year — the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period from October 15th through December 7th. During this period, you can:
- Enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan
- Enroll in a Part D Prescription Drug Plan
- Drop a Part C or D Plan
Understanding the Medicare Parts
Original Medicare — Parts A & B
Original Medicare, the coverage offered by the federal government, includes coverage for some hospital services, as well as preventative and medically necessary care. It does not include coverage for prescription drugs, vision, dental, and a number of other categories. You only have to enroll in this coverage once, when you are initially eligible by turning 65or through having a disability, end-stage renal disease, or ALS.
Medicare Advantage — Part C
Medicare Advantage Plansare offered by private insurance companies that are contracted with the federal government. These plans include the same coverage as Original Medicare, and many plans also offer additional benefits like vision, dental, hearing, fitness, and wellness. Some also offer prescription drug coverage, which is critical for many people.
Prescription Drug Plans — Part D
Individuals who are enrolled in just Original Medicare or a Part C plan without prescription drug coverage may also enroll in a Part D plan, which offers only prescription drug coverage.
Changing Plans During AEP
The Medicare Annual Enrollment Periodis a great time to find out what new Medicare plans or benefits might be offered in your area. If you’re covered by Original Medicare only, you may be able to gain benefits like vision, dental, hearing, fitness, and prescription drug coverage by enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan. Some of those plans may be available with $0 premiums, copays, and deductibles, making it possible to get more benefits at no additional cost.
If you’re already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, the Annual Enrollment Period is an opportunity to find out what other Medicare Advantage Plans are available in your area. Plan benefits change each year, so there may be a plan that’s now better suited to you.
New Medicare Advantage Benefits in 2020
Due to updated regulations in 2019 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), insurance providers can now offer a wider range of benefits with Medicare Advantage plans in 2020, including things like:
- Home helpers/in-home support
- Meal delivery
- Safety/assistive devices
- Day center visits
- Fitness membership
Several of these additions improve coverage for long-term care and at-home support, which have long been areas where there was little or no Medicare coverage. Review the Medicare Advantage plans in your area to discover if these benefits are available for you.
AEP and Dual Eligibility
Some Medicare beneficiaries are also eligible for Medicaid through their states. These individuals are considered dual eligible and may be qualified for additional assistance with Medicare costs, such as premiums and prescription drugs.
Individuals who are dual eligible can also enroll in Medicare Advantage plans called Special Needs Plans (SNPs). If you are uncertain about your Medicaid eligibility, the Annual Enrollment Period is a good time to look at Medicaid information in your state and make sure you’re not missing out on benefits or assistance you could be receiving.
Medicare Annual Enrollment Period Resources
Medicare AEP Toolkit
You can learn more about this enrollment period with easyMedicare.com’s Annual Enrollment Period Toolkit. This convenient online resource includes information on how to prepare for AEP, a guide to this enrollment period, and answers to frequently asked questions.
Online Enrollment Portal
You can easily enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during the Annual Enrollment Period using the Medicare Online Enrollment Portal. Use your zip code to search for plans in your area, choose plans to compare side-by-side, and then follow the guided process to enroll in the plan of your choice.
The portal includes plans from a number of top carriers, like Humana, United Healthcare (UHC), and WellCare. It is available 24/7 — no waiting on hold or trying to schedule a callback from an agent. The site is designed with high-contrast adjustable text for your ease of use. It is also equipped with SSL encryption to protect your personal information.
The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period occurs October 15 through December 7. This enrollment period is critical to your healthcare coverage for 2020 and you may be able to save money, receive additional assistance, or gain new benefits by enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan during this time. The Medicare AEP Toolkit is a resource for additional information about taking advantage of this enrollment period. You can easily enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan through the Medicare Online Enrollment Portal.
By the easyMedicare.com Team
easyMedicare.com is an independent digital insurance marketplace providing individuals the ability to purchase Medicare insurance from the comfort of their homes. The company has proudly served tens of thousands of people across the United States.
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