Medicare recipients consider making changes to their coverage each year for a number of reasons, but you can only switch, drop, or enroll in new plans during specific enrollment periods during the year. Let’s review the enrollment periods for 2019.
Annual Election Period (AEP)
Medicare’s Annual Election Period, from October 15 to December 7, is the period each year when Medicare recipients can make changes to their coverage. During AEP, you can:
- Drop Original Medicare and enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan (with or without prescription drug coverage to another Medicare Advantage plan (with or without prescription drug coverage)
- Switch from one Prescription Drug Plan to another Prescription Drug Plan
- Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and revert to Original Medicare (and have the option to enroll in a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan)
Open Enrollment Period (OEP)
Medicare is introducing a new Open Enrollment Period (OEP) in 2019. The OEP will begin January 1 and end on March 31. During the Open Enrollment Period, Medicare recipients enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, including newly MA-eligible individuals, can make a one-time election to switch to another Medicare Advantage plan. During OEP, Medicare recipients can also drop their MA plan and return to Original Medicare. Individuals using the OEP to make a change may make a coordinating change to add or drop Part D coverage. This will eliminate the existing Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP).
Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
If you experience certain life events or changes, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. What makes you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period?
- Moving If you move out of your plan’s service area, move into or out of a skilled nursing facility, move back into the country after an extended time abroad, or are released from incarceration
- Loss of coverage The loss of Medicaid eligibility, employer or union coverage (including COBRA), or creditable Medicare drug coverage
- Plan changes its contract with Medicare Medicare may terminate the plan’s contract, take an official action against the plan that affects you, or choose not to renew the plan’s contract
- Special Circumstances There are a number of factors that can contribute to your eligibility in an SEP, including qualifying for Extra Help, dual eligibility, or a Chronic Care Special Needs Plan.
Five Star Medicare Advantage Plan Special Enrollment Period
Medicare recipients are granted a Five-Star Special Enrollment Period from December 8 through November 30. During this Special Enrollment Period, you may switch plans once to a 5-Star Medicare Advantage, 5-Star Medicare Cost Plan, or 5-Star Medicare Prescription Drug Plan available in your area.