What To Do If You Miss Medicare’s Annual Election Period

By: Thomas Wright
Published: Wednesday, November 28 2018
Last Updated: 4 years ago

Medicare has a myriad of enrollment periods. From the Annual Election Period to Special Election Periods, it is possible that you missed a Medicare enrollment period or two. If you have missed the Medicare enrollment period, then you may have to wait for the Annual Election Period. This is a time where you can make changes to your plan or revert to back to Original Medicare.

What Is The Annual Election Period?

The Annual Election Period is a time during which you have the option to make changes to your insurance for the coming year. You can buy or decline Prescription Drug plans, or even switch from Original Medicare in lieu of a Medicare Advantage Plan.

Know The Dates - 2019

Much like the Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment Period in health insurance, the Annual Election Enrollment Period or Annual Enrollment Period occurs at the same time each year. Currently, AEP runs from October 15 to December 7 each year.

What Are Your Options If You Miss AEP?

The short answer to this is that you may not have any options until the next Open Enrollment Period, but this depends on your circumstances. If you qualify for extra help from Medicare or have Medicare and Medicaid, then you can switch plans at certain times of the year. Right now you can change at any time you like, but this may change in the future. If you qualify for a SEP, then you may still be in the 8-month period to sign up even if it is outside of the Medicare enrollment period.

Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP)

You can disenroll in Medicare Advantage plans during the following times:

  • During the open enrollment period.
  • During a SEP if granted due to an underperforming plan.
  • Anytime if you have dual Medicare and Medicaid coverage.

Sometimes your Medicare Advantage plan may choose to stop offering you a plan. If this arises, you will be notified so you can make a new selection or come back to Original Medicare. If you wish to switch your Medicare Advantage plan, you have one chance to back out during the General Enrollment Period which runs from January through the end of March each year.

Original Medicare & Medicare Part D

When it comes to Original Medicare and Part D plans, you can sign up during what some call your birthday enrollment. The Initial Enrollment is three months before your birthday, the month of your birthday, and three months following. During this time you would also choose a Part D plan (which is a stand-alone drug plan). If you miss your Initial Enrollment and a Special Enrollment Period, then you may be able to sign up during the General Enrollment Period.

Private Health Insurance Companies

You may be able to purchase private health insurance outside of the Annual Election Period, but there are a lot of different rules and depending on your Medicare status, including times when it may be illegal. If you are thinking of buying private insurance in lieu of Medicare, please consult an insurance broker or your local SHIP counselor for more help.

Medical Discount Cards

A lot of pharmacies won't let Medicare customers use discount cards. When they do, it can help people who reach Medicare’s Donut Hole for prescriptions. There are discount programs through your states pharmaceutical assistance program and you can use companies like GoodRx.

The part D plans are usually fairly cheap and the costs you pay at the pharmacy usually only go toward your deductible. Not to mention the number of drugs you can get for free if they are generics. There are many discount card programs out there so it is important to do your research as some of them can be scams, but most are a helping hand to the sick and elderly.