The Medicare Annual Coordinated Election Period (AEP) – the period during which individuals with Medicare can make coverage choices for the coming year – ends next Monday, December 7th. During this time, people can enroll in, switch, or get out of Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D prescription drug plans. They can also retain, or leave an MA plan, and enroll in traditional Medicare. Elections made during the period will be effective January 1st.
People who begin 2021 enrolled in an MA plan have an additional opportunity to switch MA plans or disenroll from an MA plan and return to traditional Medicare with a Part D plan during the first 3 months of the calendar year. This enrollment opportunity, called the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA-OEP), is not available to individuals who are in traditional Medicare and enrolled in a stand-alone Part D plan. As discussed in a recentCMA Alert, there is unequal access to different coverage options in Medicare, and there are flaws in several means of comparing such options.
In addition, there are certain rights to use a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to change or get out of a plan in certain circumstances. There are a number of SEPs, including when someone receives inaccurate or misleading information from the Medicare Plan Finder, customer service representatives at 1-800-MEDICARE, or an MA or Part D plan (or its agents). For a full list of available SEPs, see, e.g., for MA SEPs: Medicare Managed Care Manual, Chapter 2 (2021 update available here) and Title 42, Code of Federal Regulations §422.62(b); for Part D SEPs see Medicare Prescription Drug Manual, Chapter 3 (2021 update available here) and Title 42, Code of Federal Regulations §423.38.