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What is AEP in Insurance?

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When it comes to health insurance, many terms and acronyms can be used that ultimately cause some confusion. The term “AEP” is one term that receives a lot of questions. What actually is AEP and how does the term “AEP” apply to health insurance?

What is AEP?

In the healthcare and insurance context, the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) refers to a specific time when individuals can enroll in Medicare. Every year, this period runs from October 15-December 7. AEP can also be an acronym for Annual Election Period which refers to this same period of time where individuals can elect and reelect to be eligible for Medicare.

When you see this term, you can rest assured it is referring to the Medicare election period. It is important to keep these dates in mind, on your calendar or written down as vital dates to remember as you approach age 65.

When Does AEP Apply to Me?

There are a few different scenarios when the AEP dates would be applicable to you and your personal situation. Those who are looking to enroll in Medicare, switch their existing plan or add Part D prescription drug plans will need to participate in the enrollment process during the designated dates.

More specifically, those who are 65 and older, have a disability or have certain diseases are eligible to sign up for Medicare. To begin this process, you can contact your local Social Security Office.

Is Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) the Same as Open Enrollment?

Yes, these two terms refer to the same thing and can be used interchangeably. However, there is a separate enrollment process for Medicare Advantage coverage.

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If I Have Medicare Coverage Already, Do I Have to Renew Each Year?

A common concern after enrolling in Medicare is understanding how it works going forward. Existing plans will automatically renew each year, although, it is important to review your elections to ensure the proper coverage is in place for your current health needs.

What Happens if I Miss the Annual Enrollment Period?

If you are eligible to sign up for Medicare and do not complete enrollment during AEP, coverage is still available to you. However, this coverage may be subject to late enrollment penalties. These penalties are not a one-time fee, but an added charge to your monthly premium. It is also possible that this will be included for the entirety of your coverage through Medicare. It is safest to ensure you enroll in these programs during the October 15-December 7 time slots to guarantee coverage without penalty.

Navigating the health insurance system can be complex and appears to be even more complicated with age. Continue to ask questions and research terms, concepts and processes that are unclear to you. Researching and advocating for yourself are great tools to live an intentional life.

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Colonial Penn is a private company that is not Medicare, Medicaid or MaineCare and is not a governmental agency

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