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Medicare Annual Enrollment Period

If you’re curious about Medicare or recently learned your eligibility is coming up, you might have a lot of questions about what to expect. Likewise, if you’ve had Medicare for some time but are unsure if the Annual Enrollment Period (often called AEP) can affect your coverage, it might be a good idea to learn about the changes coming to your plan and if a different plan would better suit your current needs.

If you have questions about your current coverage, the AEP is the perfect time to speak with a skilled Medicare brokerage agency, such as Steinlage Insurance Agency.

About the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) covers those who are enrolled in a Medicare health insurance program and is the typical time period someone can use on a yearly basis to review and switch their plan if their current one no longer fits. If someone’s health condition changes, for example, and they require more medication than they used to, their plan may no longer be a good fit.

One of the most important things someone should do is review the changes to their prescription drug coverage (either through a stand-alone Part D plan or within their Medicare Advantage program).

Clients of the Steinlage Insurance Agency get a free Part D analysis each year to make sure they are in the most appropriate plan for their specific needs. We find that this approach can simplify the transition and sometimes save thousands of dollars annually!

Most Recent AEP Dates

Each year, Medicare has an AEP from October 15th through December 7th. Any plan changes then become effective in January.

If you have Original Medicare (Part A or Part B), you can switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan, either with or without prescription drug coverage; disenroll from an existing Medicare Prescription Drug Plan; switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another; keep your current coverage; or add a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to your existing coverage.

If you have Medicare Advantage, you may take similar measures such as switching from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare; disenrolling from Medicare Advantage; changing from a Medicare Advantage program that has prescription drug coverage to one that does not, and vice versa; or keeping the coverage you already have. More details about the enrollment period can be found on the Medicare website.

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers About AEP

When will my coverage start?

  • If you sign up during the first 3 months of your Initial Enrollment Period, and you’re signing up for Part A or Part B, your coverage will start the first day of the month you turn 65.
  • However, if your birthday happens to fall on the first day of the month, your coverage starts the first day of the prior month, meaning you are covered retroactively.
  • The eligibility for coverage for Medicare Advantage is slightly different. While you can still switch between plans during the AEP, you might also enroll within the Initial Enrollment Period seven months prior to, during, and after the month your Medicare eligibility occurs.
  • There are also special enrollment periods for after you have signed up for Part A or Part B, as well as enrollment open April through June if you have already signed up for Part A or Part B during the General Enrollment Period from January to March.
  • If you have questions or need help navigating the enrollment periods, a skilled Medicare broker can help!

Can you sign up for Medicare at any time?

  • No, you can not sign up for Medicare at any time.
  • However, there are multiple enrollment periods with their own sets of rules you can follow in order to get the coverage you need.
  • You may first enroll in Medicare in the three months before your 65th. birthday, during your birthday month, or the three months after your birthday.
  • More details on specific enrollment periods by the program can be found on the National Council on Aging Medicare website.
  • Why would I want to get Medicare prescription drug coverage if I don’t take any medications?

  • While it is true some adults over 65 might not need prescription drug coverage because they do not regularly take medications, any prescription drug you buy – such as antibiotics for a short illness – will not be covered under your Medicare program.
  • Moreover, if you don’t have a prescription drug plan as part of your Medicare coverage, you face a late enrollment penalty that increases every year you go without prescription drug coverage.
  • It makes good financial sense to sign up for prescription drug coverage even if you don’t regularly take medication on the off chance you will need it.
  • We typically suggest a person enroll into the lowest premium program available in your state, which is typical $20/month or less. You can always change your Part D program in the future as your needs change without answering health questions
  • I already have a Medicare plan. How often should I review it?

  • If you already have Medicare coverage, you should still review your plan every year to make sure a different insurer hasn’t introduced a more competitive program.
  • If you’ve gone longer than two or three years without checking on your plan coverage, we can help you navigate the various available plans and determine if your current plan is still working or if something else would be a better fit.
  • How Steinlage Insurance Agency Can Help

    It can be confusing understanding the Medicare landscape if you have not enrolled before. Likewise, if you have enrolled but it’s been some time since you went through the process, you might have questions.

    When you work with Steinlage Insurance Agency, you benefit from the wealth of knowledge our team has developed over the years. Some benefits you can reap when you work with us include:

    • Family owned business – For three generations, we have served the St. Louis and St. Charles areas as Medicare brokers, helping seniors navigate the available plans and change coverage where necessary.
    • We are one of the first truly independent agencies to focus on the Medicare-eligible client.
    • We offer free plan assessment to those who have plans now, and guidance throughout the whole process to newly eligible clients.

    Contact Our Medicare Insurance Agents

    For help with your current enrollment, or to enroll for the first time, contact Steinlage Insurance Agency today!

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