The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is a window each year when you can sign up for benefits or make changes to your existing plan. The open enrollment period occurs towards the end of the year, although the exact dates depend on where you get your coverage. In 2022 the AEP ended on 7th December. If you miss this period, the following can happen:
• If you have coverage via an individual plan or workplace benefits, it may continue automatically to the following year, although you may not make any changes
• If you do not have any coverage plan, can’t enroll in your spouse’s plan, or do not have a qualifying event, you will not have medical coverage the following year!
In 2023, Open Enrollment Period starts from 1st January to 31st March. It is important to know the differences between the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) and Open Enrollment Period (OEP). During the Annual Enrollment Period, you can enroll in a Medicare plan or make changes to your existing plan. However, Open Enrollment Period is for seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage Plan. This period runs from January to March, and seniors can change their plans to either a different Medicare Advantage plan or Original Medicare, depending on their health needs. Therefore, Open Enrollment Period is only open to beneficiaries with an existing Medicare Advantage plan.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you can change your existing plan between 1st January and 31st March. Since you can only make one change during this period, consult your Medicare insurance agent to help you make the right choice.
However, if you missed AEP and have the Original Medicare, i.e., Part A and B, you will use the same coverage. If you are content with your current plan, you don’t need to make any changes. However, those who want to make changes to their existing Original Medicare wait for the Special Enrolment Period (SEP).
A SEP could be triggered by the following:
• If you were covered by someone else’s plan and lost that coverage. For example, if your spouse loses a job or you get divorced, you are eligible for SEP
• If you are moving outside your Medicare plan coverage area
Sometimes, you can qualify for SEP if you are eligible for premium assistance subsidy under Medicaid. If nothing has happened to make you eligible for SEP, you must wait for the next Open Enrollment Period to sign up for a new plan or change your existing plan.
Remember that OEP is the perfect time to take advantage of key benefits like dental & vision. It is essential to consult your Insurance Broker to determine if you qualify for SEP or other coverage options. If you miss the Open Enrollment Period, possible coverage options include Medicaid, or short-term health insurance policies. The bottom line, you should not miss OEP, especially if you have underlying medical conditions, because it can be a financial burden for you and your loved ones. Set an annual reminder and check reminders for yourself to ensure you are up to date with OEP and AEP.
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