Medicare AEP vs. OEP
Because the Medicare enrollment periods can be so confusing, in this post we will explain the difference between Medicare AEP vs. OEP. It is helpful to understand the different enrollment opportunities available to make any plan changes to help optimize your Medicare coverage.
Please note: no one is required to change plans during either enrollment period. It is purely optional. It is however a good idea to review your plan benefits and consider all your options during AEP.
We will start with the AEP (Annual Enrollment Period):
In Medicare, these two enrollment periods have 2 different windows of time to enroll in a plan. To differentiate between the two, you need to know the dates available to make changes for each enrollment period. The AEP runs from October 15 through December 7 each year. During this period, Medicare enrollees have the opportunity to make many types of changes to their Medicare coverage. These changes allowed during the AEP include:
- Changing from one Medicare Part D (prescription drug plan) to another.
- You can change from Original Medicare which may include enrollment in a Medicare Supplement and or a Prescription Drug Plan into a Medicare Advantage Plan.
- If you are in Original Medicare, you may want to add a Part D (prescription Drug) plan.
- Change from one MA/MAPD (Medicare Advantage Plan) to another.
- Disenroll from a MA/MAPD (Medicare Advantage) Plan and enroll in Original Medicare. This gives you the opportunity to enroll in a Supplement Plan as well as a Part D (Prescription Drug) Plan. (Medicare supplements may be subject to underwriting)
More information about AEP:
During the AEP, Medicare plan providers use the enrollment period to announce plan updates and changes to their benefits for the following year. These changes may include plan costs, deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance amounts. The carries send out their ANOC (annual notice of change) to their beneficiaries in hopes that they can add beneficiaries and grow the strength of their plan. Once enrollees get their ANOC, they can decide whether to keep their current plan or consider making a change. The AEP is the best time to compare plans and make sure you are enrolled in the plan that provides the coverage options you are looking for.
AEP allows you to make several plan changes. Keep in mind, the last plan change you make is the one you will be enrolled in. The plan you enroll in during AEP will begin January 1st of the following year.
Now we will discuss the OEP (Open Enrollment Period):
The OEP (Open Enrollment Period) is sometimes referred to as the MAOEP or Medicare advantage Open Enrollment Period., This enrollment period runs from January 1 through March 31 each year. The OEP differs from the AEP because only members of MA/MAPD (Medicare Advantage Plans) are able to make plan changes during this enrollment period. Member cannot change Original from Original Medicare/Medicare Supplement plans or switch from one PDP plan to another. Only changes to Medicare Advantage plans is permitted.
Enrollees of Medicare Advantage plans can make the following changes:
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another one that provides the coverage you need.
- Dis-enroll from you current Medicare Advantage plan and enroll in Original Medicare (this may include a supplement and PDP plan).
One important difference between the AEP and OEP is that; you may make one plan change during the OEP and that is all. OEP is also a good time to correct any MA/MAPD plan changes you made during AEP that you are not happy with. Any changes made during OEP will go into effect the month after your application is submitted.
Be aware that once you make a plan change during OEP/MAOEP you will not be able to make changes until the next AEP. This rule does not apply to individuals with an SEP.
Beneficiaries of Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans are not subject to either of these enrollment periods. They have their own enrollment rules.