Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP) is the time when Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to how they receive their medical and prescription drug coverage. Outside of AEP, you can only make changes during another valid election period.
AEP occurs October 15, 2016 through December 7, 2016. Each September, you receive a Medicare and You handbook if you have original Medicare. If you have additional coverage, you also receive an Annual Notice of Changes and/or Evidence of Coverage from your existing plans. You should thoroughly review these documents. Together, they outline changes to your existing policies and Medicare for the coming year. Besides checking things like doctor or drug co-pays, check for more subtle changes such as drug formulary (Is your medication still covered, and is it still in the same tier?), network (Is your favorite pharmacy still a preferred provider?), and doctors (Will your physician/ specialists still be in network?)
Even if you are satisfied with your current coverage, look at other options that may better suit you. In addition to your coverage changing, you may also have experienced changes in the past year. A broker can explain your plan documents and help you decide if your current plan or another might provide you with coverage best suited to you. Brokers traditionally don’t charge fees as they are compensated by the insurance companies they are contracted with. Select an independent broker for access to many plans from multiple companies.
When making your Medicare decisions, don’t only rely on input from friends. Your friends have different health histories, medications, doctors, finances, and life circumstances. These are critical considerations when deciding how to receive your health and drug coverage that a conscientious agent or broker will work to understand in order to make the most suitable recommendation for you. Changes made during AEP will be effective January 1, 2017 if they are received by December 7.