9 Important Dates for People on Medicare

9 important dates for people on Medicare to remember. When it comes to your Medicare coverage there are lots of things to keep track of. The names of your doctors and drugs. The bills for your deductibles and copays. And the times of the year when you can make changes to your Medicare plan. Being stuck on a plan that isn’t meeting your needs is not a good experience – but it is something you may be able to change! To help you stay in control of your coverage and your health, we’ve compiled a list of 9 important dates for people on Medicare.

Medicare Benefits Solutions

Jun 19, 2021

 8 minutes read
1 – Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

Number one on our list of 9 important dates for people on Medicare, is the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period. The 7 month long Medicare Initial Enrollment Period is most people’s first chance to sign up for Medicare. As it is based on your date of birth the IEP has no fixed universal date. Your IEP starts three months before you turn 65, runs during the month of your birth and for the three months afterwards.

During your IEP you can choose to receive your Medicare benefits through Original Medicare (with the option to add a Prescription Drug Plan, and/or Medigap coverage), or you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans are required to include the same Part A and Part B benefits as Original Medicare. And most Medicare Advantage plans also include additional benefits – like vision and dental care, fitness programs, and prescription drug coverage.

Most people qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A based on taxes they paid while working. And if they are taking the Original Medicare route, the majority of people enroll in Part B at the same time. This helps them to avoid late enrollment fees, and potentially higher premiums.

If you don’t have creditable drug coverage, now is also the time to consider Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage). Enrolling in Part D at a later date may incur late enrollment penalties and you may pay higher premiums. Alternatively you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage.

A brief note on disability & Medicare

People with certain disabilities may qualify for Medicare before their 65th birthday.

  • After 24 months of receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration or the Railroad Retirement Board you will automatically get Medicare Part A and Part B.
  • If you are diagnosed with ALS, you will get Medicare Part A and Part B the first month you begin getting disability benefits.
  • If you have end stage renal disease, you can sign up for Part A and Part B by contacting Social Security.
2 – Medigap Open Enrollment Period

The Medigap Open Enrollment Period starts when you turn 65 and have enrolled in Medicare Part B. For the 6 months that it lasts you’re able to enroll in any Medigap policy sold in your state. During your Medigap OEP you have a guaranteed issue right – which means you cannot be refused coverage or charged more if you have pre-existing medical conditions.

If you apply outside of your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, insurers will likely require that your policy is medically underwritten. They can also refuse coverage and may increase your premium based upon your health.

Medigap is sometimes referred to as Medicare Supplemental.

3 – Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP)

If you didn’t enroll in Medicare during your IEP, your next opportunity to enroll is the Medicare General Enrollment Period. This runs from January 1 to March 31 each year. If you enroll during the GEP, your coverage starts on July 1.


4 – Welcome to Medicare Preventive Visit

During the first year that you’re enrolled in Medicare Part B or a Medicare Advantage plan, you qualify for a Welcome to Medicare preventive visit. This is not an in depth physical exam. But it does give you and your doctor the chance to assess your health and make a plan for your future care

There is no charge (coinsurance, copay or deductible) for your Welcome to Medicare visit as long the following conditions are met:

  • Original Medicare Part B – You must go to a doctor who accepts assignment (the Medicare approved payment) as full compensation
  • Medicare Advantage – You may have to visit a doctor in your plan’s provider network

Learn more about what the Welcome to Medicare preventative visit covers at Medicare.gov.

5 – Medicare Annual Notice of Change (ANOC)

Every September people enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan receive an Annual Notice of Change letter from their plan provider.

The ANOC is your warning of any changes to coverage, costs or service area for your current plan. It arrives in time for you to review your coverage before Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) begins on October 15.

Any changes made during AEP come into effect on January 1 of the following year.

6 – Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

One of the most important dates for people on Medicare is the Annual Enrollment Period. Running from October 15 to December 7 – AEP is your chance to explore plans available in your area, compare costs and benefits and find a plan that’s right for you.

 

During AEP you can:

  • Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage
  • Drop Medicare Advantage and revert to Original Medicare (and enroll in a Prescription Drug Plan)
  • Switch from one Prescription Drug Plan to another
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another

Any changes you make to your Medicare coverage during AEP take effect on January 1 of the following year.

It’s good practice to review your options during AEP, and see how your current plan compares to others available in your area. You may be able to get a higher level of coverage and increased benefits at a lower cost.

Explore the plans available in your area using our plan finder, or speak to one of our licensed agents at (866) 576-2956 or (TTY: 711). We’re here to help.


7 – Annual Flu Shot

Flu Season runs from November to March. And with the Flu virus being particularly impactful on those aged 65 plus, it’s important to get vaccinated every year.

Without doubt, getting an annual flu shot is one of the most important dates for people on Medicare. This straightforward piece of preventative medicine can help you avoid the complications and costs of getting sick with flu.

There is no charge (no copay, deductible or coinsurance) for your annual flu vaccination as long the following conditions are met:

  • Medicare Part B – You must go to a doctor who accepts assignment (the Medicare approved payment) as full compensation
  • Medicare Advantage – You must go to a doctor or other approved location in your plan’s provider network. Speak to your provider to find the location closest to you.

8 – Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP)

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period runs rom January 1 to March 31. During MA OEP people enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan can make one change to their coverage.

You are able to:

  • Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
  • Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and revert to Original Medicare
  • If you switch to Original Medicare, you are also able to enroll in a Prescription Drug Plan

A change made during MA OEP comes into effect on the first day of the following month.

To find out if there’s a Medicare Advantage Plan available that could give you more and cost you less, talk to one of our licensed agents today at (866) 576-2956 or (TTY: 711).


9 – Annual Wellness Visit (AWV)

Once you’ve been enrolled in Medicare Part B or a Medicare Advantage Plan for more than 12 months you qualify for an Annual Wellness Visit. This is a great opportunity to sit down with your doctor and discuss any changes or concerns you have about your health.

There is no charge (copay, deductible or coinsurance) for your Annual Wellness Visit as long the following conditions are met:

  • Original Medicare Part B – You must go to a doctor who accepts assignment (the Medicare approved payment) as full compensation
  • Medicare Advantage – You may have to visit a doctor in your plan’s provider network

Any diagnostics or treatments you need following your Annual Wellness Visit will be discussed with you by your doctor.


That wraps up our list of 9 important dates for people on Medicare. If you found this information helpful, and would like to get regular updates by email sign up for the Medicare Benefits Newsletter today!

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