Medicare: The Difference Between AEP and OEP

It is that time of year again to consider changes to your Medicare plan. This year you will likely see an abundance of advertisements for two enrollment periods; the annual enrollment period (AEP) and the open enrollment period (OEP).

Since the two enrollment periods are not the same, we wanted to clarify the differences between them and how they may impact your coverage.

The annual enrollment period will often go by a variety of names including:

  • Fall enrollment period
  • Annual election period
  • Medicare Advantage enrollment period

The annual enrollment period runs from October 15th to December 7th every year. This is when plan beneficiaries can make changes such as:

  • Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
  • Change from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
  • Enroll, change, or cancel your Part D prescription drug coverage
  • Go back to original Medicare and drop your Medicare Advantage plan

All changes that occur during the annual enrollment period will take effect on January 1st next year. Before you make a change, wait to receive your Annual Notice of Change explaining any changes to your current plan.

The open enrollment period begins January 1st and runs until February 14th. The OEP used to be known as the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP). Changes made during this time frame are only available to beneficiaries already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Because networks change, coverage isn’t as comprehensive, and certain benefits are covered at 80%, the OEP allows beneficiaries to do the following:

  • Enroll or cancel your Part D prescription drug plan
  • Change from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
  • Go back to original Medicare and drop your Medicare Advantage plan

All the marketing targeting the two enrollment periods can make it very confusing for beneficiaries. It is highly recommended you work with a trusted insurance agent who understands the options and plans available to you. As your agent, I am here to help. Please call me anytime if you need assistance evaluating your insurance needs and the plans that may make the most sense for you and your budget.