Medicare Enrollment Period
There are many different Medicare enrollment period acronyms that can often be confusing for Medicare members. Depending on which period you are in, you will have different choices to select or change your coverage. This could be an option to select any sort of coverage that is available or you may only be allowed to change a certain aspect fo your coverage. Below is an explanation for a few of the most common Medicare enrollment periods.
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
Your initial enrollment period starts 3 months prior to your 65th birthday and ends 3 months after. You are now eligible to sign up for Medicare benefits from the government and can also sign up for plans that provide additional coverage. Most people will be automatically signed up for Part A with the government. Although, you will need to actively enroll in Part B, also with the government. Part B does have a monthly premium. If you are working and have competitive benefits from your employer, you may hold off on enrolling in Part B without penalty. You will need both Parts A and B to enroll in any sort of additional Medicare coverage. Your initial enrollment period allows you to enroll in any Medicare option without having to answer health questions.
Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)
The annual enrollment period for Medicare runs from October 15th to December 7th. During this time, anyone that has a Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) can switch their coverage. If you have either of these types of plans, this is a great time to reevaluate your options with a health insurance broker. This is the most simple and quickest way to ensure that you have the plan with the best benefits. If you have a Medicare Supplement plan, you do not participate in the annual enrollment period unless you want to enroll in an Advantage option. Your Supplement plan benefits do not change during this time and your policy continues as normal.
Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
The special enrollment period will allow a Medicare beneficiary to change their coverage outside of any other enrollment period. Special enrollment periods are reserved for someone who is experiencing some sort of life event and now needs new coverage. The most common reason is someone moving to a new state and their Medicare Advantage plan no longer covers them. Another common reason is leaving your employer and losing coverage through the business. You generally have two months to sign up for a new plan if this happens. Another SEP is your current carrier dropping your coverage. Although this is less common, there are times when an insurance carrier will leave a certain area or county.