The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, also known as AEP, takes place every year from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. This is the only opportunity a Medicare beneficiary has to review, renew and/or change their current Medicare plan for the upcoming year, unless they qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP), which is only available when a significant life event occurs.

It’s important to be fully prepared for AEP so that you choose the best plan for your needs. Here are some steps that can help you prepare for this year’s Medicare Annual Enrollment Period:

  1. Be aware of what changes can be made during AEP.
  2. Review your current plan.
  3. Make a list of your doctors and medications.
  4. Talk with a licensed Medicare agent.

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1. Be aware of which changes can be made during AEP

Here’s a quick list of which plan changes you can make during the Annual Enrollment Period:

  • Change to a Medicare Advantage plan from Original Medicare, Parts A and B.
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare, Parts A and B.
  • Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
  • Enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan.
  • Change from one Medicare prescription drug plan to another.
  • Opt out of Medicare prescription drug coverage completely.

Any changes you make during the AEP will go into effect Jan. 1 of the next year.

2. Review your current plan

Before AEP starts, take the time to review your current Medicare coverage. With so many choices for Medicare coverage, you shouldn’t get stuck with a plan that doesn’t work for you. Here are some specific areas that you should evaluate:

  • Total annual costs: How much did you have to pay out of pocket? If your costs were out of budget or higher than expected, it might be time to look for a more affordable plan. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer $0 premiums and $0 copays.
  • Doctor networks: Make sure that no changes have been made to the doctor network for the upcoming year. It’s ideal to have a plan where your primary doctor and all specialists are in network.
  • Prescription drug coverage: Check your plan’s formulary to see if your medications are still covered. If they’re no longer in the formulary, find out what your costs will be.
  • Extra benefits: Does your plan offer additional benefits, and are you taking advantage of them? Many plans now offer extras like gym memberships, meal delivery and over-the-counter allowances.

3. Make a list of your doctors and medications

When it comes time to shop for a new plan, you’ll need to make sure your doctors, specialists and prescription medications are covered. By making a list ahead of time, you’re less likely to miss something important or misspell names. You’ll have a comprehensive list that you can easily reference whether you’re shopping for plans online or on the phone with an agent.

4. Talk to a licensed Medicare agent

Starting on Oct. 1 each year, the new Medicare plans are available to review, although you can’t enroll until Oct. 15. Take advantage of this time and talk to a licensed Medicare agent about your options. The QuoteWizard Medicare team has agents available that can help you compare plans in your area and determine if there’s an option that meets your needs and budget. Our services are completely free to you and there’s no obligation to enroll — just call (855) 906-0601.

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QuoteWizard is owned and operated by, LLC (“QuoteWizard”), a subsidiary of LendingTree, LLC. Copyright © QuoteWizard Insurance Solutions, LLC. All rights reserved. Invitations for application for insurance may be made through QW Insurance Solutions, LLC (“QWIS”), a subsidiary of QuoteWizard, or through its designated agents, only where licensed and appointed. Licensing information for QWIS can be found here. QWIS is a non-government licensed health insurance agency. Not affiliated with or endorsed by any government agency. Callers will be directed to a licensed and certified representative of Medicare Supplement insurance and/or Medicare Advantage HMO, HMO SNP, PPO SNP and PFFS organizations. Your call will be routed to a licensed agent who can provide you with further information about the insurance plans offered by one or more of our third-party partners. Each of the organizations they represent has a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any plan depends on contract renewal. Availability of benefits and plans varies by carrier and location and may be limited to certain times of the year unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area. Please contact or 1-800-MEDICARE to get information on all of your options. Deductibles, copays, coinsurance, limitations, and exclusions may apply. Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed the information contained on this website.