Column: Digesting Medicare alphabent soup

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Commentary by Bob Adams

Medicare is notorious for throwing around acronyms like AEP, OEP, IEP and SEP. OMG! As if Medicare isn’t confusing enough.

IEP and SEP are for individuals new to Medicare. However, for folks already enrolled in Medicare, you will deal with AEP and OEP. So, what’s the difference?

The Annual Enrollment Period, or “AEP,” is the time of year from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 when individuals with Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) or prescription drug plans (Medicare Part D) can move to a different Medicare Part C or D plan. Please note it is not a guarantee that you can switch from one supplement to another supplement.  You may change a supplement to a Medicare Advantage plan, otherwise the AEP is just about Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug plans. You can change your mind multiple times until Dec. 7, but after that date, whatever plan you choose will go into effect Jan. 1.

The Open Enrollment Period, or “OEP,” is the time of year from Jan. 1 to March 31 when individuals with a Medicare Advantage plan can make one final move for the year. You can move from a Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan or change from a Medicare Advantage plan back to the original Medicare and drug plan. Here again, it is not a guarantee for a supplement. 

To keep it simple, if you are having second thoughts about your Medicare Advantage plan, call your agent and ask them to review your options. Please be aware that agents and insurance companies are not allowed to market their products or services to you during the OEP. If someone calls you about making a change during the OEP, kindly dismiss them.

One final thought: Be sure to work with an independent agent who can offer you multiple options with different insurance providers. They will care more about what is best for you than what is best for themselves and the insurance company.

With that clarification, you can now LOL.

Bob Adams is an independent insurance agent at Robert Adams Insurance. He may be contacted at 317-402-3171 or adams.ins@comcast.net.

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