# November, 28, 2019

Last Chance for Medicare Annual Enrollment

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is coming to a close, with December 7th being the last day to make changes to your Medicare coverage. AEP runs from October 15th through December 7th every year. If you miss AEP and don’t qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP), you will have to wait until next year’s Annual Enrollment Period to make any changes to your Medicare coverage.

What Are You Able to do During Medicare Annual Enrollment?

AEP gives Medicare beneficiaries the ability to:

  • Change, join, or leave their Medicare Part D plan
  • Switch from Medicare Parts A and B (Original Medicare) to a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan or vice versa
  • Change their Medicare Advantage plan

It is important to note that you cannot enroll in Medicare for the first time during AEP. It’s best if you sign up for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), which includes the three months preceding your birth month, the birth month itself, and the three months following your birthday. If you missed your IEP and do not qualify for an SEP, you must wait for the Medicare Open Enrollment Period that runs from January 1st through March 31st. Your coverage will not begin until July 1st.

What Happens if You Miss Annual Enrollment?

Missing AEP does not mean that you lose your Medicare coverage. Instead, your current coverage continues into the next year. There is also a chance that you qualify for an SEP, which would allow you to make the changes you would normally make during AEP.

If you did not sign up for Medicare because you had existing coverage from an employer, you qualify for an SEP for either 8 months after employment ends or coverage ends. However, if you do not qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, you will have to wait for the next AEP to make any changes to coverage.

Don't ignore Medicare Annual Enrollment

Can You Ignore Annual Enrollment?

Some people choose to ignore AEP because they are happy with the coverage they already have. And there is no rule that says you have to change your coverage. But, that does not mean you should ignore Annual Enrollment.

Each year, plans notify beneficiaries of coming changes via the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) documents. (You should have received these in September.) Failure to read these notices means you may miss important changes that impact you directly. This includes providers leaving networks, prices going up or down, and prescription drugs entering and leaving formularies.

It’s also important to note that your plan isn’t the only one changing next year. AEP gives you the chance to review all of your options to ensure you have the best coverage available at a price that fits your budget.

Medicare Changes Expected in 2020

You can expect a few changes to Medicare in 2020. This is particularly true for Medicare Advantage.

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) expects Medicare Advantage enrollment to hit 40.6 percent
  • The average MA plan premium is projected to drop slightly to $23.00 (this average includes plans that have zero cost)
  • Most counties are seeing an increase in MA plan options, from an average of 33 plans per county to 39
  • Medicare Part D premiums are expected to be lower, with the average coming in at around $30
  • The out-of-pocket spending requirement to leave the Medicare Part D coverage gap is increasing by about 25 percent (more than 10 times the rate as in previous years), jumping from $5,100 to $6,350
  • If you have Medigap Plan C or F, you can keep your plan, but these options will not be available to new beneficiaries in 2020
  • The annual income brackets for premium surcharges are being adjusted for inflation for the first time, to $87,000 (single) and $174,000 (married)

Finally, Medicare continues phasing out Medicare Cost Plans. If this includes your plan, and you do not act during Annual Enrollment, you will be automatically enrolled in either Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan. Which option you get depends on your current plan and location.

Get started with Medicare Annual Enrollment

It’s Not too Late to Get Started

Our Medicare Annual Enrollment Prep 101 is a great resource if you’re just getting started. As a recap:

The easiest way to manage AEP is to make a list of your providers and medications. Then, review out your ANOC and EOC to determine whether any changes are going to affect you.

Compare your provider and prescription lists with your current coverage. Then, look at the plan options in your area to see whether there’s better coverage available.

When comparing costs, look at the total out-of-pocket costs of a plan, not just the monthly premium. That includes deductibles and co-pays or co-insurance.

How We Can Help

Medicare enrollment can be confusing and even overwhelming. You have a lot of options to compare to ensure you’re getting the best coverage at the best price.

Our Find a Plan tool is easy to use and completely free. Just enter your location, add a coverage start date, and hit Continue to start comparing plan options in your area.


Chris Gasparini

Chris Gasparini has been a licensed insurance agent since 2005. He enjoys helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate their options to find the best solution for their unique needs. Chris feels as though his work truly helps people. Because he represents multiple insurance companies and plan types, Chris is able to help Medicare beneficiaries find the best, most cost-effective plan. Every day, he leaves work knowing he did what was right for each and every client he serves.

The MedicareUSA website is operated by HealthPlanOne, LLC a licensed health insurance agency based in Connecticut; in California d/b/a HPOne Insurance Agency, license #OF30784. HealthPlanOne, is a licensed and certified representative of Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO and PPFS organizations and stand-alone prescription drug plans with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any plan depends on contract renewal.

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Last Updated 12/21/2018