Medicare AEP vs. OEP — What’s the Difference?

Medicare’s AEP and OEP are distinct enrollment periods when Medicare beneficiaries can make important changes to their senior health insurance.

As summer comes to a close and fall looms before us, it’s time to review your Medicare coverage. You’ll likely receive a letter from Medicare or your Medicare Advantage provider as a reminder that AEP and OEP are coming. This letter is known as an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). It lets you know about any changes coming to Medicare in the new year.

  • AEP stands for annual enrollment period: October 15 – December 7.
  • OEP stands for open enrollment period: January 1 – March 31.

If your health situation has changed, or if it might change soon, this is the time to make sure you have coverage for prescription drugs and doctor’s visits.

At CoverageCoach, we realize that Medicare can be complicated for seniors and their family members. Our goal with these articles is to provide you with accurate, unbiased information about MedicareMedicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement plans. Here, we’ll take a closer look at Medicare’s AEP and OEP and explain Medicare Advantage too.

If you would like a no-cost, no-pressure consultation about your senior health insurance, reach out to the team.

Medicare AEP

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) happens every year in the fall. It’s the time of year when a Medicare beneficiary can make changes to their plan. It begins on October 15 and runs through December 7.

During Medicare AEP you could:

  • Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan (we’ll talk more about those in a moment)
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another
  • Add a Part D plan (prescription drug coverage)
  • Switch from one Part D plan to another
  • Cancel Part D coverage

Note that any changes you make to your Medicare during the AEP will go into effect on January 1. New Year’s Day is also the day Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP) begins.

Medicare OEP

During the Open Enrollment Period, you can:

  • Add or cancel a stand-alone Part D plan
  • Return to Original Medicare from a Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Or switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another.

Medicare Advantage Plans says “Medicare Advantage Plans [Part C or MA Plans] are an ‘all in one’ alternative to Original Medicare. Private companies approved by Medicare offer them.”

Think of them as Original Medicare plus more. These “bundled” plans include Medicare Part A (hospital insurance), Medicare Part B (senior health insurance), and usually Part D (drug coverage). Plus, they typically have added benefits, like vision, hearing, and dental coverages, to name a few.

Medicare Changes Coming in 2021 — ESRD

2021 will be an important year for Medicare beneficiaries that have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). For the first time, these folks will be able to join a Medicare Advantage plan. This is terrific news for seniors with ESRD who have been paying out-of-pocket for many health care expenses.

Medicare AEP and OEP Conclusion

At CoverageCoach, our goal is to provide you with honest, unbiased answers to your Medicare questions. If you need help understanding your ANOC, if you’re a senior with ESRD, or if you have any questions about your Medicare Advantage plan, let’s talk.

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