Jewell Insurance and Financial Services Blog
Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans have limited enrollment periods in which members and prospects can make changes. It can be difficult to keep track of these periods of time, but as a Medicare beneficiary, it is critical that you know WHEN you can make changes to your plan.
Open Enrollment Period (MA-OEP)—January 1-March 31
In certain circumstances, you may make ONE plan change during OEP. All enrollments using the OEP will be effective the first of the following month. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you may switch to a different Medicare Advantage Plan OR a Prescription Drug Plan with Original Medicare.
This might be useful if you find your current Medicare Advantage Plan isn’t meeting your needs. You can use this period to make one change, so use it carefully!
Special Election Period (SEP)—varies
These periods vary based on your circumstances. The most frequently used SEPs include moving out of your plan’s service area, losing group coverage, and having, gaining, or losing the Low Income Subsidy.
Each SEP allows for a certain amount of time to make changes. Call your agent for details based on your situation!
Initial Enrollment Period—based on your Medicare effective date
This coverage is based on your Part B effective date. For most people, this when they turn 65, but it could be different if you gain Medicare eligibility due to a disability or if you delay your Medicare due to having an active employer plan.
This is a 7 month window that begins 3 months prior to your effective date, the month of your effective date, and 3 months following your effective date. Most plans using the IEP begin on the first of the month in which you gain Medicare eligibility. However, if you wait until the end of your IEP, your plan will be effective the first of the following month.
Annual Election Period (AEP)—October 15-December 7
You may make AS MANY changes as you wish to your Medicare Advantage and/or Prescription Drug Plan. All enrollments using the AEP will be effective January 1.
You may switch from one prescription drug plan to a different prescription drug plan. You may switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan. You may switch FROM a Prescription Drug Plan to a Medicare Advantage Plan (and vice versa).
This is a very useful time, because it’s your opportunity to shop around and make sure your plan fits your needs the best.
If you make a selection and submit an enrollment in October, but change your mind and want a different plan, you can submit a new enrollment prior to December 7. It doesn’t matter how many enrollments you submit; the one that goes in LAST is the one that will be in place on January 1.
There’s a lot to keep track of with Medicare election periods! Feel free to reach out if you have questions or if you need to make changes.
Angela Damin, Your Medicare Teacher, is an award winning Medicare planning broker with over a decade of experience in the Medicare field. She meets people in person, over the phone, and via video chat. Angela has a Masters Degree in Education and taught elementary school before switching her subject matter to the Medicare realm. She spends her spare time chasing her twin grade schoolers.