This year’s Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP) is underway now, and lasts until December 7. At this time you can make changes to your Medicare plan. Or, if you do nothing, your current plan will automatically renew.
But what if you realize that you need to make changes to your Medicare plan at some other time of the year. Are you just stuck with whatever plan you have, until AEP reopens next fall? Or can you make changes some other way, and how do you do that?
Yes, there is actually another time that you can make certain changes to your Medicare plan, depending upon your circumstances. From January 1 until March 31, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP) will allow you to make the following changes:
- Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare
- Enroll in a Part D (prescription) plan, if you took the above step
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Advantage plan
But there’s one thing you cannot do during OEP from January through March: Those enrolled in Original Medicare plans cannot switch to an Advantage plan.
Outside of the OEP window, you can make changes to your Medicare plan by accessing a Special Enrollment Period, assuming you meet certain criteria. Those criteria are numerous, but in most cases fall under one of the following conditions:
- You move to a new plan service area
- You move into, or out of, a long-term nursing facility
- You qualify for Special Help
- You receive both Medicare and Medicaid benefits
Certain other conditions can help you to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. When in doubt, just ask! Call us if you need to make changes to your Medicare plan outside of AEP or OEP, and we can help you discover whether you might have a qualifying condition. But do remember that AEP happens for a reason each fall. Take a look at your current plan now, and consider whether a different Medicare plan would better suit your needs so that you don’t suffer any regrets next year.