What Is The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?

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Margaret Huntley 14-10-2021

Medicare Annual Enrollment Period 2022

medicare annual enrollment period

Sometimes referred to as the Annual Election Period (or the AEP for short) or as the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, the Medicare Annual Enrollment period is the window of time that you are permitted to join, switch, or drop your Medicare coverage. 

This window is usually between October 15th and December 7th with the changes taking place on the first of January in the following year. That means that this year’s window begins on October 15th 2021 and ends on December 7th 2021. All changes submitted within this window will be put into action come January 1st 2022.

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How to Use the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is meant for you to make changes to your current Medicare coverage. If you are already on Medicare, in September you will receive an annual notice regarding any changes that may be happening to your coverage in the coming year.

Such changes may include:  

  • Your premiums either increase or decrease
  • The network of permitted health care workers expands or shrinks
  • Certain drugs are no longer covered under Medicare Plan D
  • Medicare Plan D will cover more drugs than before

Depending on what the changes are, and your extenuating life circumstances, you may wish to switch your Medicare coverage. And That’s precisely what the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is for!

The following are the changes that you are permitted to make to your Medicare coverage during the Annual Enrollment Period:

  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan (Medicare Part C) to Original Medicare
  • Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Change from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another
  • Sign up for Medicare Part D to cover prescription drugs
  • Change your Medicare Part D plan
  • Cancel your Medicare Part D plan

Making these changes to your Medicare coverage is actually quite easy. There are just three easy steps:

  1. Check that you are eligible to make changes to your Medicare coverage
  2. Decide whether you are satisfied with your current coverage or not
  3. Contact a licenced agent to Enroll in any changes before December 7th.

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When You Should Switch Medicare Coverage?

Just because you are able to change your Medicare coverage during the Annual Enrollment Period, does not necessarily mean that you have to. If you are satisfied with your current plan, you can let the period pass without making any changes and your same coverage will automatically be renewed in the coming year.

However, there are some considerations to be made when deciding whether to change up your Medicare coverage. Here are some examples of when it may be a good idea to switch coverage:

  •  You are not able to afford your increased premiums
  • Your Medicare Advantage Plan no longer has your family doctor in network
  • Your prescription is no longer covered in your Part D plan
  • You plan on traveling or moving out of your Advantage Plan’s network in the coming year
  • You gain ancillary benefits
  • You anticipate needing more healthcare, and therefore more coverage in the coming year
  • You’re dissatisfied with your current plan

To help you make a decision, the Centre for Medicare and Medicaid Services has a rating system to compare different plans. The Medicare plans are ranked on a scale of one to five stars, with five being the highest.

Considerations such as customer service, member experience, and member complaints are all factored into this rating. Be sure to look into the rating of your current plan, as well as that of any new plans you are considering switching to.

Do your research, and be sure to take advantage of this year’s Medicare Annual Enrollment Period!

Margaret HuntleyMargaret Huntley is a creative writing and philosophy student at Western University. She has been working as a freelance writer for over two years and has written about everything from insurance, to poker, to health and wellness for international businesses.