Medicare Open Enrollment- What You Need to Know!

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Medicare Open Enrollment 2021-2022! We are at that time of year again when just about everyone on Medicare is wondering what they need to do, and it’s actually a super important time period in the Medicare world where you can make some changes. Most people don’t know what they should do or can do, but more importantly what they shouldn’t do, so we are going to go through everything right now to make sure that we understand exactly what open enrollment is about.

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Medicare Open Enrollment?

Now we’re going to talk about Medicare Open Enrollment! The first thing we’re going to do change the name, so we’re going to now call it the Annual Election Period (AEP). They have multiple names for this same period of time in Medicare which again just adds to the confusion!

One thing that is for sure is that we are going to be inundated with TV commercials. These advertisements are going to be on just about all hours of the day, and will have people like Joe Namath, Jimmy J Walker, and Mike Ditka talking to you about Medicare choices. They tend to round up these older celebrities to talk about how wonderful a Medicare Advantage Plan is, so it’s important to understand because they can be really, not only misleading but certainly confusing. 

About 95% of the commercials you are going to see are pushing Medicare Advantage plans, and not really diving into the drawbacks with these plans, like networks of doctors. If it were me, the first thing I would say to you is, “beware with the commercials!” If I were looking into it, I would ask Joe Namath, “hey can I go to any doctor, any hospital anywhere in the country that I choose to go?”  Joe’s answer would be, “uh, no you can’t!  You have to stay within our network of doctors in a local area.” 

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More often than not, the drawbacks behind these Medicare Advantage plans are hidden in the benefits. Sure, some of the benefits can be very appealing, like dental, vision and hearing care. The drawbacks though, such as having to use a network, or getting referrals and pre-authorization, don’t make for as good TV and often don’t get mentioned!

When is the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?

The Medicare Annual Election Period starts on October 15th ends on December 7th. The changes you make during AEP will go into effect on January 1st, so if you are going to make a change with a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare drug plan, you must initiate that change during the window of October 15th- December 7th.

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What can be done during Medicare Open Enrollment?

The big question most people have is, “what can you do during the annual election period at the end of the year?” The short answer is: you can make changes to a Medicare drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan. You can enroll, disenroll, or change one of these plans during this open enrollment period. If you are looking to change your Medicare Advantage plan to a Medicare Supplement plan, you will also use this time period to go through the process of underwriting. 

It is most important to understand that this time period each year is critical to make changes to a Medicare Part D plan, or a Medicare Advantage plan.

Changing Medicare Supplement Plans

One of the most common questions people have during the Annual Election Period is about changing Medigap plans. A lot of people assume that October 15th- December 7th is also the time of year to change from one Medicare Supplement plan to another. This is not necessarily the case. Medigap plans do not follow the same time structure that the Medicare Advantage plans do. If you are enrolled in a Medigap plan and you want to switch to another plan, you can actually apply any month of the year! The only catch is that in most states, you will have to undergo medical underwriting (not all states, see you state specific guidelines here). The only time you would have to apply for a Medicare Supplement plan during open enrollment would be if you are leaving a Medicare Advantage plan. 

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Give us a call at 877-885-3483 and a licensed agent will walk you through the steps of applying for a Medigap plan!

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