What You Need to Know About the 2019 Medicare Open Enrollment and AEP

What You Need to Know About the 2019 Medicare Open Enrollment and AEP

Autumn is an incredible time of year – we have Thanksgiving, pumpkin-flavored everything, the biggest sales of the year… oh, and the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (how could we forget?).

We know a lot of people are searching the term “open enrollment,” so we included that term in the title of this article (so you could find us!). However, that’s not actually the correct term in this situation.

The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for Medicare runs from October 15 through December 7. If you use Medicare, this a very important window of time for you, because you’re able to choose your 2019 health plans!

During the AEP, you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage plan as well as your Medicare Part D drug plan. However, Medigap plans are not affected by the AEP.

Open enrollment, on the other hand, is a separate time where you can purchase any Medigap plan without having to pass any medical underwriting. This is a 6-month window that occurs when you first sign up for Medicare Part B.

A lot of people mix up these two terms, so we wanted to clear that up.

But now it’s time for the good stuff – what changes can you actually make during the 2019 Annual Enrollment Period?

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Changes you can make during the 2019 AEP for Medicare

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period isn’t a free-for-all for all types of insurance, but you can make a lot of changes – especially changes that’ll save you big money on your health insurance.

Do you have Medicare Advantage? From October 15-December 7, you can make the following changes:

  • Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t include prescription drug coverage to one that does, and vice versa

In short, you can make any change you want regarding your Medicare Advantage plan. You can drop it, switch it, keep it… whatever makes the most financial sense for you.

Not sure what to do with your Medicare Advantage plan? That’s what we’re here for. Using our contact form, let us know the name of the insurance company and we’ll help you out.

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Do you have a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan? You can make these changes:

  • Enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan
  • Switch from one stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan to another one
  • Drop your prescription drug coverage

You might be able to save some money by looking at the 2019 Part D plans. The drug plans change every single year, not to mention that the medications you take may have changed, so the plan you have may not be the most cost-effective one anymore.

Sams/Hockaday & Associates doesn't sell prescription drug plans, but we know Medicare, and we can run a comparison based on the medications you take. We’ll help you choose the plan that's best for you for this year. This is a free service!

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Your end goal of the 2019 Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare

A lot of individuals get this part wrong – your end goal is NOT to pay the least in monthly premium.

Your end goal for the 2019 AEP is to minimize your total out of pocket costs for the year. Premiums are only one part of the equation when it comes to all of your healthcare expenses.

You also have deductibles, coinsurance, and copays. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a plan for its low monthly premium only to find out later that your deductible is insanely high.

This can often happen with both Medicare Advantage plans and Part D drug plans, so be sure you understand all your costs before making any changes.

If you search for drug plans using the Medicare Plan Finder, you can actually see what your annual drug cost will be, which will help you sort plans from least expensive to most expensive.

In the following example, you can see that the Aetna drug plan costs $25.80 per month while the WellCare drug plan costs $69.80 per month. But look a little closer – the annual cost of the WellCare plan is over $200 less than the Aetna plan. Premiums aren’t the whole story!

2019 Medicare Open Enrollment and AEP

Pay attention to deductibles in this example – the WellCare plan has a $0 annual drug deductible, which means you get coverage right away. The Aetna plan has a $345 annual drug deductible, which means you’ll be paying out of pocket for a while before you get coverage.

Want to run comparisons for yourself? Use this tutorial for choosing your drug plan in less than 15 minutes.

You also want to look at the full picture with Medicare Advantage plans. What is the monthly premium, the deductible, the copays, and the coinsurance? You also want to know what the network is like – Medicare Advantage plans often have limited networks, which means you’re only allowed to see certain doctors. That might end up being important to you!

Changing plans after the 2019 AEP is over

What happens if you totally miss the 2019 AEP for Medicare?

If you don’t take action from October 15-December 7, your options for changing drug plans is very limited. You’d have to qualify for a special enrollment period, which includes situations like getting kicked off of your employer’s group plan or your Medicare Advantage plan getting terminated.

If you don’t qualify for a special enrollment period, you just have to wait until October 15 of 2019 to make changes.

For Medicare Advantage, the only change you can make after December 7 is to drop your plan and switch to Original Medicare. You can do that during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP), which is from January 1-March 31 of 2019.

Get personalized help during the 2019 Annual Enrollment Period

You don’t actually need to know every detail about the enrollment process – that’s what we’re here for. Simply contact us, and our licensed agents will help you save money on your own health plan for next year.

Also, don’t forget to download your Enrollment Period To-Do List. This will help you save money before the 2019 Enrollment Period is over and it’s too late!

Related content:

Get Your 2019 AEP To-Do List

This easy-to-understand list for the Annual Enrollment Period will help you save money, ensure your benefits are the best they can be, check that your doctors are still in network, & more.

Get My To-Do List
Get Your 2019 AEP To-Do List

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