What is AEP?

by Miriam Bridgeman

What is AEP, and is it important to my clients and me? AEP stands for Annual Enrollment Period and is important for when you are in Medicare or on an under 65 health insurance plans through Pennie.com (healthcare.gov). This is the time when you can have the opportunity to change plans for the new year and the times to switch are different for Medicare members and under 65 plans. If you’re a Medicare participant, then your annual enrollment period runs from October 15th thru December 7th. This is your opportunity to review your current plan and see what’s changing. In September, you will receive an ANOC – this is an annual notice of changes. It compares your current plan with any new changes for the coming year. This is your chance to make a different decision or stay put based on your current health needs. It is best to review with your insurance agent what plans are currently offered versus just staying on your original plan. The ANOC will only give you changes on the plan you are currently on, not review the many other options that may be better suited to where your health is currently. 

So, what do you do if you’re on Medicare? Changes to Medicare Advantage plans are annual, and plans are hopefully getting better but not always. Some plans terminate and automatically port you to a similar plan, but does that make sense for you? Your health is dynamic, and your plan should be too. Is your plan covering all you need it to cover? An agent working in the Medicare markets will be able to review your current plan and see if it makes sense to remain in your current plan or move to a better-suited plan. Find someone you can trust who is well versed in all things Medicare. If you’re struggling with your bills, perhaps you would qualify for a low-income subsidy to help pay your Part B, co-pays, or prescriptions. New medications may not be covered by your old plan and may be covered on a new plan saving you money month to month. An agent will have the knowledge to educate and guide you into the correct plan. Making it a habit to connect with them every AEP is beneficial for your health and your wallet.

For those under 65, a review of your plan ANOC will be released in October. Your annual open enrollment runs from November 1st thru January 15th, with December 15th being the cutoff for changes beginning on January 1st. Pennie.com is the Pennsylvania under 65 portal that was created after Obamacare; healthcare.gov; marketplace exchange. PA decided to do their own thing – thus, Pennie.com was born. Pennie offers tax subsidies for those who qualify. It’s important that if your income changes, you connect with your agent to make an adjustment on your account versus waiting until AEP. Waiting to update your income can at tax time, have you possibly paying back some of the subsidy used during the year if you didn’t qualify for the subsidy for the entire year. Keeping up with the rules and an annual review of what’s new or different is an important part of having the best health plan for your needs. There are a lot of plans out there and having someone in your back pocket who is familiar with the plans and your situation is invaluable.

Navigating health insurance can be tricky if you don’t have an insurance agent to assist you with the ins and outs. Don’t be left behind – ask questions, and don’t stay put because it’s what’s always been done or what’s easy. Many times, moving plans will benefit your current health issues, give you the best benefits you qualify for, and put money back in your pocket. Being aware of when your AEP is and staying in contact with your agent makes the daunting and overwhelming insurance world doable. Talk to your agent today.

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