Open Enrollment Period (OEP)

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period happens annually from January 1st through March 31st. This enrollment period is for people enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. It is essential to understand that changes can only be made once during this time, unlike the Annual Enrollment Period in the fall, where enrollees can change their minds multiple times.

The most significant difference between the Annual and Open Enrollment Periods is that AEP offers more flexibility regarding plan change options over OEP.

Changes allowed during OEP include:

  • Change to a different Medicare Advantage plan
  • Drop a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan and return to original Medicare
  • Add a standalone Part D plan – If dropping a Medicare Advantage plan and returning to original Medicare

Any coverage changes made during this become effective on the 1st of the following month when the carrier receives the change request.

Usually, we help people change their plans during this enrollment period because somebody missed a critical change to their plan during the ANOC or EOC review or did not complete the review. Either medications were removed from the formulary, and they did not become aware of the change until they went to refill the prescription, or they learned that a provider they currently use is no longer in the network. These two examples are perfect examples of someone not being on an appropriate plan for that current calendar year. Sometimes, it is because someone needs a benefit not available on their current plan, and we can find it on a different plan, but for the most part, it is because of medications or providers or both. If you do not catch the error before the end of OEP, you must wait until the next AEP to make any changes unless you have a qualifying event that triggers a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).

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