Medicare Annual Election Period - PIH Health

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Published on November 09, 2017

Medicare Annual Election Period

Medicare aged couple sitting in a park

Medicare aged couple sitting in a parkIf you are a Medicare beneficiary, October 15 to December 7 is an important time period. Called the Annual Election Period (AEP), it’s the annual window for you to make changes to your Medicare coverage. Many people refer to it as open enrollment because AEP works the same way for those who receive their health insurance through their employer.

You have Original Medicare if you use your red, white and blue card for healthcare services and have not enrolled in any additional insurance plan. You are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan if you chose a primary care physician to coordinate all your care and use an insurance card (i.e., Blue Shield, UnitedHealthcare, or Anthem Blue Cross/CareMore) with low or no copayments for healthcare visits. You have purchased a Medicare Supplement if you pay an additional monthly premium and can visit any doctor that accepts Medicare.

Below is a quick rundown of what you can do during AEP:

  • Enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan from Original Medicare
  • Change from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another
  • Return to Original Medicare from a Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan
  • Change from one prescription drug coverage to another
  • Opt out of Medicare prescription drug coverage completely
  • Change from one Medicare Supplemental Plan to another
  • Opt out of Medicare Supplemental Plan and return to Original Medicare or enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan

Whatever changes you make during the AEP will go into effect on January 1 of the following year. But what if you decided to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan and are not happy with your choice? January 1 to February 14 is the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period. You can cancel your enrollment with the Medicare Advantage Plan and return to Original Medicare only. This does not mean you can change from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another, you are only able to opt out and return to Original Medicare.

PIH Health accepts Original Medicare, Medicare Supplement and contracts with several Medicare Advantage plans. We also work with insurance broker agencies who can assist you in choosing the right health plan option for you. For more information, please call our Patient Services at 888-365.4450 or visit

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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