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 fall under an SEP (Special Enrollment Period), 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.

Image of couple enrolling for health care online

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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