How to Prepare for the Annual Enrollment Period

Preparing for AEP

To prepare for the Annual Enrollment Period, you need to understand your own coverage needs, what coverage your plan will provide, and which plans are available to you. At Carolina Senior Benefits, we understand that this can be a confusing process as you will have to review your current coverage and what changes will be made, but that’s why we are here to help!

What is the Annual Enrollment Period?

The Annual Enrollment Period is an exciting time for Medicare beneficiaries to take advantage of other Medicare options and make changes. This includes the chance to enroll in or drop either a Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D prescription drug plan, or simply stay with Original Medicare. Whatever changes you decide to make to your coverage will go into effect on January 1st, but the Annual Enrollment Period lasts from October 15th through December 7th so make sure you don’t miss out on this important period to review your coverage!

Before the Annual Enrollment Period begins, make sure you understand your coverage options and find out what is available to you. For extra preparation before the period starts, consider going over the “Medicare & You” handbook that is released by Medicare every year or simply reach out to Carolina Senior Benefits with your questions.

Our overall goal is to make sure you have the coverage you need. To make this a reality, we will help you go over all of your available options so you know if your current plan will continue to work for you or if a new Medicare plan will meet your needs better.

Let’s start off with Original Medicare, which includes both Part A and Part B. Part A will provide you with your inpatient hospital coverage while Part B will provide your medical outpatient coverage. This is what most beneficiaries typically enroll in first once they become eligible for Medicare. To break down the coverage even further, you can expect Part A to cover:

  • Skilled nursing facility care
  • Hospice care
  • Home health care
  • Inpatient care

For Part B, you can expect coverage for:

  • Preventative services
  • Medically necessary services
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Ambulance services
  • Clinical research
  • Mental healthcare services

If you are enrolled in Original Medicare, then you can use the Annual Enrollment Period to join a Medicare Advantage plan or add on a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

Medicare Advantage, which is also known as Part C, is an alternative to Original Medicare. It will, of course, provide you with the same coverage as Original Medicare, but depending on the exact Medicare Advantage plan you enroll in, you could have additional benefits. These additional benefits can include:

  • Prescription drug coverage
  • Hearing coverage
  • Gym memberships
  • Wellness programs
  • Vision coverage
  • Dental coverage
  • Adult daycare services

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can use the Annual Enrollment Period to switch to another Medicare Advantage plan (one with or without prescription drug coverage), or you can drop your Medicare Advantage plan and stay with just Original Medicare coverage. The Medicare Advantage plans that will be available to you will depend on your location and if you live in a plan’s service area.

Medicare Part D, which has already been mentioned as the prescription drug plan, will of course provide coverage for prescription drugs. Coverage you can expect with a Part D plan includes coverage for at least two drugs in every class, and all drugs listed in these categories to be covered:

  • Antipsychotics
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticancer 
  • Immunosuppressants
  • HIV/AIDS drugs

If you’re enrolled in Part D, you can use the Annual Enrollment Period to switch to a different Part D plan or drop your Part D coverage. You can also enroll in Part D for the first time during this period. The Part D plans that will be available to you will depend on your location and if you live in a plan’s service area.

Going over the coverage for each of these plans and determining which ones are available to you will help you make a more informed decision on the type of coverage you need.

How Will I Know If I Should Use the Annual Enrollment Period?

Every year, you will receive notices from your current Medicare plan detailing any changes that will be made to your coverage and will take effect on January 1st of the following year. You will receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) or an Evidence of Coverage (EOC), which will go over any changes to your Medicare Advantage and/or Part D costs and coverage. You should have received these notices in September, so if you have yet to receive one, it’s important that you reach out to your plan.

Once you get these notices, you should always review them so you know just how much your plan will change in terms of costs and coverage. If you’re unsure of what this reviewing process will look like and what you should do, make sure to reach out to us as soon as possible. We are experts in Medicare and know all the ins and outs of all Medicare plans.

We will go over the coverage and costs you are looking to have, and help you determine if your current plan and its changes will match that or if another Medicare plan will be more beneficial to you.

Reach Out to the Medicare Experts Today

At Carolina Senior Benefits, our goal is to provide you with the peace of mind you need to be satisfied with your Medicare coverage! All you have to do is give us a call today and we can set up an appointment to discuss your Medicare options and help you prepare for the Annual Enrollment Period.