First of all, let me address the reference to “Open Enrollment” period… AEP is not the actual Open Enrollment period in the true sense of the word and meaning!  Open Enrollment implies NO HEALTH QUESTIONS.  Open Enrollment when you are first turning 65, allows you to pick any plan with ZERO health questions.  Because many Medicare Advantage carriers very frustratingly refer to AEP (period between October and December, when your TV and mailbox get inundated with literature that does nothing but scare and confuse people) as Open Enrollment.  This again leads people to believe that they do not have to answer questions when applying for insurance such as Medicare Supplements… again NOT TRUE!!!

The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) or Annual Coordinated Election Period is when Medicare beneficiaries can add, change, or drop their Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan coverage for the next calendar year.

NOW there is Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP) which also provides and additional opportunity for people to change or drop their Medicare Advantage plan coverage (MA or MAPD).

The Medicare Advantage OEP (MA OEP) begins January 1 and continues through the end of March with plan changes taking effect the 1st day of the month following the change.  Example:  You decide “last minute to get into a new MAPD plan on February 15th.  Thats fine! But coverage won’t start until March 1.

As noted by Medicare, the MA-OEP allows people “enrolled in an MA plan, including newly MA-eligible individuals, to make a one-time election to go to another [Medicare Advantage] plan” – or to leave their Medicare Advantage plan, join a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan [PDP], and return to Original Medicare Part A and Part B. For example, an individual enrolled in an MA-PD plan may use the OEP to switch to: (1) another MA-PD plan; (2) an MA-only plan; or (3) Original Medicare with or without a PDP. The OEP will also allow an individual enrolled in an MA-only plan to switch to– (1) another MA-only plan; (2) an MA-PD plan; or (3) Original Medicare with or without a PDP. However, this enrollment period does not allow for Part D changes for individuals enrolled in Original Medicare, including those with enrollment in stand-alone PDPs.”

 

As a historical note:

Since 2005, a number of different terms have been used to describe the time each year when you can add, change, or drop your Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan coverage.  In past years, you may have even seen the term, “annual Open Enrollment Period” or “Medicare Open Enrollment” used interchangeably with the Annual Election Period (AEP) or Annual Coordinated Election Period describing the annual Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plan enrollment period starting October 15th and continuing through December 7th.  After January 2019, please be sure to recognize the OEP as the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (January 1st through March 31st) – not to be confused with the AEP.
So, you might find the annual Medicare enrollment period starting October 15th and continuing through December 7th described as the:

  • AEP,
  • Annual Enrollment Period,
  • Annual Election Period,
  • Annual Coordinated Election Period,
  • Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP),
  • annual Open Enrollment Period,
  • Fall Open Enrollment season, or
  • Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage.

The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Manual calls this time of year the Annual Election Period (AEP).
“Beginning in 2011, the AEP is from October 15 through December 7 of every year. It is also referred to as the ‘Fall Open Enrollment’ season and the ‘Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage AND Medicare prescription drug coverage’ in Medicare beneficiary publications and other tools. Plan sponsors may use these descriptions of the AEP in their member materials as well as in materials for prospective members.”

During the annual Open Enrollment Period (AEP), Medicare beneficiaries can add, change, or drop their Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan coverage.

Changes in Medicare plan coverage during the AEP will take effect on January 1st of the next year.

After the close of the AEP, most people will only have a limited opportunity to change their Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan coverage until the next AEP or Open Enrollment Period.
If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you will be granted a second opportunity to “drop” your Medicare Advantage plan during the annual Medicare Advantage plan Disenrollment Period (or MADP) starting on January 1st and continuing through February 14th.  The changes will become effective the first day of the month after disenrollment.

If you disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan, you will be returned to original Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B – and you will have an opportunity to enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

Please note: We use the term annual Open Enrollment Period interchangeably with AEP (Annual Enrollment Period or Annual Coordinated Election Period).  However, when you are enrolling in a Medicare plan using a paper application, you may see “AEP” as an enrollment period option – meaning the annual Open Enrollment Period.  If you are enrolling between October 15th and December 7th, you will want to select “AEP” on your enrollment application as the enrollment period.

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