Each year, Medicare gives folks one opportunity to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan. Known as the Annual Election Period (AEP) or colloquially as Open Enrollment, October 15 through December 7 is the limited time of year when Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan for the following year.
The commercials on TV and junk mail never seem to stop. They make big promises about MA plans…. But many people are quick to realize those promises come with headaches:
Medicare Advantage plans offer small networks of doctors and often limit you to only providers in your county. Furthermore, the networks of accepted doctors can change anytime during the year!
Just a few years ago, one local MA company in my area dropped 66% of its doctors from the network! That left thousands of seniors scrambling to find a plan their trusted doctors accepted — only to find that they were locked into their MA plan for the year.
To make matters worse, MA plans also require referrals to see specialist doctors. (If you’re like me, your specialists are even more important to you than your primary care provider!) Referrals mean extra doctor office visits, more copays, more headaches.
Luckily, the Medicare Annual Disenrollment Period (ADEP) quickly comes after the new year!
Think December 7 was your last chance to find great Medicare coverage? Think again!
During the AOEP, people who are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans can cancel their plan and “return” to Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B only). Then, they can quickly add on a more convenient and affordable Medicare Supplement plan!
This seamless transition must take place during the Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period which runs January 1 – March 31 of every year.
Moving from an MA plan to a Medicare Supplement (also known as MediGap) plan makes all the sense in the world:
- MediGap plans allow you to visit any Medicare-approved doctor or facility in the USA
- MediGap plans do not require you get permission before seeing specialists
- MediGap plans reduce – and often eliminate – all out of pocket costs
- Some MediGap plans even cover you while traveling overseas!
It’s easy to see why switching from an MA plan to a Medicare Supplement plan is a decision many seniors and baby boomers make each new year.
The Annual Open Enrollment Period is also the perfect time of year to reassess your prescription drug coverage. If you are currently on a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Advantage with Prescription (MAPD) plan, you can use this opportunity to find a stand-alone Part D plan! With over 803 plans to choose from, Medicare Part D plans offer more flexibility in drug coverage. Prescription drug coverage under MA and MAPD plans fluctuate every year – as do your medical needs – so it’s important we take the time to make sure you have a plan that’s offering you the lowest costs for medications.
Take advantage of our free, no-hassle Rx Checkup during the AOEP! We’ll take a look at your current drugs and search over 803 Part D plans to find the lowest cost to you.
Remember, the AOEP only lasts until March 31 so it’s important you act quickly.
A word of caution: Don’t make the switch on your own! It’s important to make sure your new MediGap coverage is in place before canceling your MA plan so you don’t have a lapse in coverage. Licensed Agents like me can make sure this process is smooth.
The ADEP doesn’t last very long and you don’t want to make the mistake of being stuck in a restrictive MA plan for another long year! Take advantage now by getting a free Rx Checkup or by asking for a plan comparison. I’ll explain in simple terms how a MediGap plan can save you time and hassle!