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The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is between October 15 and December 7 every year. This is an important time of the year because during this time, Medicare beneficiaries can add, drop, or switch Medicare Advantage plan or Prescription drug plan annually. The last application Medicare receives by December 7 will provide coverage effective January 1.

Sometimes life happens and deadlines are missed. So, what can a Medicare beneficiary do if they missed the Annual Enrollment Period?

Open Enrollment Period 

In 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) brought back an important enrollment period called the Open Enrollment Period (OEP). OEP is from January 1 to March 31 of each year. During this time, beneficiaries that are on a Medicare Advantage Plan can do a few different things:

  • Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan
  • Drop Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare, Part A and B
  • Sign up for a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan (if returning to Original Medicare)

Any changes made during OEP will take effect the 1st day of the following month. Keep in mind that unlike the Annual Enrollment Period where beneficiaries can make an unlimited number of changes to their coverage, during the OEP, beneficiaries can only make a one-time change.

Special Enrollment Period 

Another way Medicare beneficiaries can make a plan change outside of the Annual Enrollment Period is during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). SEP’s are enrollment periods based on special circumstances where someone can enroll in a plan outside of the Annual Enrollment Period. Some (but not all) situations resulting in a SEP include:

  • Change in residence
  • Involuntary loss of credible drug coverage
  • Exceptional conditions such as:
    • Gaining or losing Medicaid eligibility or Part D low-income subsidy
    • Changing employer/union group sponsored MA coverage
    • Enrollment based on incorrect or misleading information
    • Individuals who dropped a Medigap policy when they are enrolled for the first time in an MA plan, and who are still in a “trial period”

This is not an exhaustive list of Special Enrollment Periods. If a beneficiary is looking to make a plan change outside of AEP or OEP, we encourage them to contact our VibrantUSA agents to review all possible SEP options.

VibrantUSA Is Here to Help

So, you missed the Annual Enrollment Period? Don’t get overwhelmed trying to navigate the Medicare insurance system alone, contact us. VibrantUSA can help you navigate the system and make the best choices when it comes to Medicare Insurance plans. Don’t wait – act now and take control of your health and healthcare.

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