If you’re a Medicare beneficiary, then listen up: The Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period is coming up for 2021. This is an opportunity to make a number of changes to your Medicare plan.
Not everyone will need to change plans during AEP. But anyone looking to lower their Medicare premiums or increase coverage should pay attention.
This is also a good opportunity to switch to the Medicare MSA Plan, a form of Medicare Advantage that serves as a valuable addition to your retirement plan.
When is the 2021 Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period?
The 2021 Medicare AEP starts on October 15th and lasts until December 7th. This is the only time of year to make important, potentially cash-saving changes to your Medicare. After the December 7th deadline, you will only be able to change Medicare Advantage or Part D plans if you qualify for a special enrollment period.
What Can I do During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?
From October 15th to December 7th each year, all Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to:
- Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage
- Switch from Medicare Advantage back to Original Medicare
- Join, drop, or switch Medicare Prescription Drug Plans
- Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan from your current insurer, or to a plan from a different insurer.
- Switch to the new Medicare MSA Plan, the only Medicare Advantage that comes with a tax-advantaged savings account
Medicare Annual Enrollment Period Checklist
- Pay Attention to Your Mail. You should receive an Annual Notice of Changes (ANOC). This will let you know about any changes that are happening to your coverage. You will also probably receive a lot of marketing materials from insurance companies, but remember, it’s always best to discuss Medicare changes with an advisor before switching.
- Review ‘The Medicare Playbook’. Written by MediGap Advisors founder Wiley Long, The Medicare Playbook is a one-stop shop for all things Medicare. It’s written in a simple, down-to-earth way that Makes Medicare easier than ever. Never read The Medicare Playbook? Click here to learn more.
- Assess your health needs for 2022. If your medical needs have changed in any way, there’s a good chance that your current plan is no longer the best option. Even if you’re happy with your current plan, it’s often possible to switch to a comparable plan and still save money.
- Schedule an Appointment with your Personal Benefits Manager. We’ll help you find a plan that works with both your budget and your health needs. Our services are 100% free to all of our clients.
What’s the Difference Between Medicare Annual Enrollment vs. Initial Enrollment vs. Open Enrollment?
- The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is for current Medicare beneficiaries who are looking to make changes to their Medicare plan. This includes changing plans, switching to Medicare advantage, or enrolling in a drug plan. For Original Medicare, Open Enrollment is also commonly referred to as Annual Enrollment.
- Medicare Initial Enrollment is for individuals who are turning 65 and enrolling in Medicare for the first time. Open Enrollment starts the first day of the month that you turn 65, and lasts for 6 months.
- There is also a period from January 1st to March 31st, called the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, in which people who already have a Medicare Advantage plan can switch plans or switch back to original Medicare.
What is the Medicare MSA Plan?
The MSA Plan is a form of Medicare Advantage that has become popular due to both the $0 monthly premium and the included Medical Savings Accounts.
MSA Plans come in two parts:
- A high-deductible, $0 premium Medicare Advantage Plan
- A tax-advantaged Medical Savings Account
MSA plans have the advantage of a low monthly cost and a long-term savings potential. For this reason, they’re a recommended option for people who don’t use their coverage much. MSA Plans also cannot rescript access to providers, which means that you can visit any provider that accepts Medicare.
Should I Switch Medicare Plans During Annual Enrollment?
Not everyone will need to switch plans during the AEP. But if you feel like you’re paying too much for Medicare, not getting enough coverage, or are simply unhappy with your plan, this is the only time of year to change things up.
Schedule an Appointment with Your Personal Benefits Manager
Tell your Personal Benefits Manager what you’re looking for in a Medicare plan. From there, we’ll match you with the option that aligns with your health and financial goals.
Click here to get started with a no-cost consultation. Here are some additional articles on AEP: Should You Switch to a Medicare MSA Plan This Fall? | Should I Switch Medicare Supplement Plans?
Jim Corn is a Personal Benefits Manager at MediGap Advisors. Jim has a passion for bringing clarity to those confused about Medicare. He is an authority on Medicare, Medicare supplement plans, Medicare Advantage plans, and Part D prescription drug plans. Read more about Jim on his Bio page.