If you are new to Medicare, you may be wondering what Medicare’s Annual Election Period is – and if you need to do anything during it. The Annual Election Period (AEP) gives Medicare recipients the chance to make changes to their coverage, but if have just recently become eligible for Medicare due to age or disability, or are getting close to qualifying for it, understanding AEP can help you understand your options as you move forward.

The Annual Election Period begins on October 15 and ends on December 7 each year. During AEP, Medicare recipients can make changes to their coverage. If you are unsatisfied with your current coverage, if there have been any changes in your circumstances, or if your insurance plan’s benefits no longer meet your needs, you can review other options available to you and find a plan that will meet your needs.

What Changes Can You Make During AEP?

When you first become eligible for Medicare, you can choose to receive your benefits through Original Medicare or through a Medicare Advantage plan. Original Medicare is administered by the federal government and includes Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans are offered by private insurance companies that contract with Medicare to provide your Part A and Part B benefits. Many MA plans provide additional benefits for no to no additional cost. These additional benefits can include vision care, dental services, hearing exams, prescription drug coverage, and even wellness programs.

If you have Original Medicare, during AEP you can drop Original Medicare and enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without prescription drug coverage). If you have enrolled in a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP), you can switch to a different PDP.

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, during AEP you can switch from one Medicare Advantage plan (with or without prescription drug coverage) to another Medicare Advantage plan (with or without prescription drug coverage). You can also drop your Medicare Advantage plan and revert to Original Medicare. If you choose to revert to Original Medicare, you can also enroll in a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP).

Do you have to make a change? If you are satisfied with your current insurance coverage, you can continue your Medicare coverage without any changes or interruptions.

Related articles:

Medicare Part C

Medicare Part D: Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage