It's Annual Open Enrollment (AEP) time for Medicare
What you need to do and when you need to do it
It's that time of year again: Medicare's annual enrollment period is upon us. People are looking at their options. There are many different Medicare plan options, and picking one that best fits your needs can be overwhelming. This article breaks down the basics into simple terms and explores the options.
What is Medicare?
Medicare is a federal health insurance program that covers people 65 and older, as well as younger people who have permanent disabilities. The US government, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), runs it, and it's available for most people who qualify for it.
If you want more information about whether or not you qualify, visit the Medicare Eligibility Tool.
What are the Medicare Plan Options?
Medicare Part A helps cover hospital care, including inpatient care, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and home health care.
Medicare Part B is medical insurance that helps cover care from doctors, preventative care, durable medical equipment like wheelchairs, ambulance services, mental health care, and outpatient care.
Medicare Advantage Plan (also known as Part C) is another way to get Medicare Part A and Part B coverage plus other benefits not covered under those parts. Medicare-approved private companies offer Medicare Advantage Plans. But it may come with an additional charge. Some Medicare Advantage Plans also include drug coverage (Part D).
Medicare Part D helps cover the cost of prescription drugs.
When is the Medicare enrollment period?
Your first chance to sign up for Medicare is the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP.) The IEP lasts for seven months—starting three months before you turn 65 and ending three months after the month you turn 65.
If in the future you need to switch plans because you have new health concerns that aren't covered on your current plan or if you're paying for benefits that you don't need or no longer use, you can do so during the following periods:
Each year from October 15 - December 7, you can join, switch, or drop a plan during the Annual Open Enrollment Period (AEP.)
From January 1 – March 31, If you're enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch to a different Medicare Advantage Plan or switch to Original Medicare during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.
What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?
Medicare provides medical insurance for the elderly and younger disabled people. Medicaid provides assistance with medical costs for low-income people. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program, and you must meet your state's rules which can differ from state to state. Some people qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.
Many decisions must be made when considering which Medicare options are right for you. For more information about your Medicare choices, visit Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE.
And check out GetSetUp’s upcoming Medicare classes:
Medicare 101: This class will help you understand the basics of Medicare, how it works, and how to prepare for enrollment if you are eligible.
Medicare Costs: Explains how your choices impact coverage and costs.
Medicare Dates You Need to Know: Learn the important dates and deadlines so that you don't miss out on your coverage options.
How to Choose a Medicare Advantage Plan: Learn how to choose the best Medicare Advantage Plan for your needs, and begin feeling confident about your future health coverage.
Understanding Medicare Supplements: Explains how to navigate government-related websites like CMS.gov and Medicare.gov to find answers to understand Medicare supplement plans that might be right for you.
These classes will help you confidently navigate the open enrollment period, whether you're looking at options for the first time or want to consider changes in your current plan.