5 important facts about the Medicare Annual Election Period

Whether you’re already enrolled in Medicare or you’re just starting to ponder your options, there is a lot to consider. While Medicare is a lifeline for many, it doesn’t cover everything—and it isn’t free.

Here are 5 things you need to know to choose your plan with confidence.

Fact 1: Medicare comes in 4 parts

How many (or few) parts of Medicare you need depends on you. Original Medicare is provided by the federal government and comes in 2 parts:

  • Part A is hospital insurance.
    • Part A has no premium cost if you’ve paid payroll taxes for at least 10 years.
  • Part B is medical insurance.
    • Part B requires you to pay premiums, copays and deductibles, similar to private insurance companies.
    • In 2019, the Part B premium is $135.50.
  • Part C (Medicare Advantage) is offered by private insurers and often combines Parts A, B and D in one plan.
  • Part D is prescription drug coverage offered through private companies

    If you have other coverage through an employer or your spouse, you can opt out of Part B when you first become eligible. That way you can delay having to pay the Part B premium until you need the coverage.

    Part C Medicare Advantage plans and Part D stand-alone prescription drug plans are only available through private insurance companies like Humana.

    Fact 2: Medicare isn’t free

    And it doesn’t cover everything.

    It pays to do a little math. Review your expenses from last year so you can anticipate what your future needs may be.

    Original Medicare includes hospital and medical care, but it doesn’t cover prescription drugs or routine vision, dental or hearing care. Do you take daily medications? Do you wear glasses or contacts or need hearing aids? You’ll be paying out of pocket for those items.

    Many Medicare Advantage plans include coverage for prescriptions and may offer dental and vision benefits. You may need to pay a monthly premium, in addition to the Part B premium, but it may be worth it based on your needs.

    An unexpected hospital visit, or a toothache that turns into a root canal, could quickly blow your budget. Compare the coverage and cost options from the government and private insurers, like Humana, to make sure you’re getting the coverage you need.

    Fact 3: Each year has an Annual Election Period (AEP)

    Most people first become eligible for Medicare at age 65, but your Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP) actually begins 3 months before the month of your 65th birthday, includes your birthday month, and continues through the 3 months that follow.

    Because there is a delay from the date of your enrollment to the activation of your plan, try to enroll during the 3-month period before your birthday to avoid a gap in your coverage.

    If you miss your 7-month ICEP, you’ll need to wait for the Annual Election Period (AEP) to enroll in a Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug plan. That takes place each year from October 15 through December 7.

    During AEP, you can also change your plan, purchase additional coverage or dis-enroll from a Medicare plan altogether.

    Fact 4: You will always have options

    Healthcare needs can change—overnight or over time—so it’s good to know your plan can change, too. If you already have a Medicare plan but it’s not checking all your boxes, or if you just want to see if you’re missing out on any new coverage or benefits, the Annual Election Period allows you to explore your options.

    If you decide you, you can use the AEP each year to make changes.

    Fact 5: Humana can help

    Like you, we want this chapter of your life to be a healthy, happy and fulfilling one. If all the options and information out there start to feel a little overwhelming, don’t worry. We’re here to help you make sense of it all so you can choose your plan with confidence.

    Licensed Humana sales agents are just a phone call away, or you can schedule an appointment to sit down with a Humana sales agent in person to explore your options.

    You can also contact Medicare directly for more information by calling 1 800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) (TTY: 1-877-486-2048) 24 hours a day or visiting the Medicare website, opens new window.

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