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What Does AEP Stand for Medicare [Definitive 2023 Guide]

What Does AEP Stand for Medicare [Definitive 2023 Guide]

In this article

— Last Updated May 27, 2022

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8 mins
Reviewed by
Eric Berkman

Guide What Does AEP Stand for Medicare [Definitive 2023 Guide]

— Last Updated May 27, 2022

Stephanie Wilson

Director of Operations


Reviewed by

Eric Berkman

Medicare is an important part of getting older, but it can feel impossible to navigate. However, health insurance is vital as we age, so any confusion about Medicare should be cleared up as soon as possible. Simply put, Medicare is the federal government’s health insurance used primarily by those over 65 years old. But that is not all you need to know! If you’ve heard about it before, you’re probably wondering: what does AEP stand for Medicare?

We will be discussing all of that and more in this article! Keep reading to find out all you need to know about Medicare insurance, the importance of finding an agent, and AEP. First, we will begin by answering a foundational question – what is Medicare?

What Is Medicare?

Before we get into the finer points of insurance, it is essential to have basic knowledge about Medicare that can be built upon. In this section, you will learn all of the important information about Medicare!

  • Definition

To begin, let’s define it! Medicare is a federal health insurance program meant to be used once someone turns 65 years old. Medicare is divided into four primary parts: Part A covers hospital and inpatient insurance, Part B is for medical insurance and outpatient procedures, Part C are the opt-in Medicare Advantage plans, and Part D covers the coverage fees for prescription drugs. 

Essentially, Medicare is an insurance program meant to assist the eldery with health insurance. If the different parts seem confusing, working with an agent to find you the best policies would be beneficial. Here at Policy Solver, we are dedicated to finding the proper insurance for our clients, and can help you navigate all the ins and outs of Medicare.

  • Who Needs It?

Alright, we have defined Medicare! Now let’s specify who exactly needs it. As stated, Medicare is meant to assist anyone over the age of 65 years old. However, it is also needed by younger people with certain disabilities as well as those suffering from permanent kidney failure. As we age, we become more prone to illness or injuries that require medical assistance. That is why Medicare is needed as people get older.  And almost all people who reach 65 are eligible for Medicare insurance, but you need to make sure you enroll in Medicare when you’re within 3 months of turning 65, or within 3 months after turning 65. This is important to know because you will better understand medicare vs medicaid.

Medicare Part A works to cover emergency insurance and inpatient treatment, showing that Medicare is not just needed by those already struggling with illness. It helps to cover some of the costs of unexpected accidents or injuries, and so is needed just in case something occurs.

Advantages of Medicare

Here are a few of the advantages that come from Medicare:

  • Wide-ranging coverage. Medicare helps with everything from inpatient to outpatient treatment, meaning it can help in a variety of situations.
  • Lower monthly premiums. The premium is a monthly fee required by insurance. Most people will not pay a premium at all for Medicare Part A.
  • Being eligible does not change year to year. Since it is based on age, you will have access to Medicare for life.
  • With Original Medicare, you usually do not need a referral note from your primary doctor in order to see a specialist. 

Disadvantages of Medicare

In contrast, it’s important to be aware of some of the disadvantages of Medicare. 

  • Out-of-pocket costs can add up quickly, even after you meet your deductible. The deductible is how much you pay before your insurance kicks in. So even with low premiums, it can still be expensive.
  • Original Medicare generally does not assist with the costs for routine dental, hearing, or eyesight visits.
  • Hospital costs can also be high, even with Medicare. Unnecessary hospital stays or frequent visits for outpatient treatment can quickly add up since Medicare doesn’t cover everything.

When you’re ready to enroll in Medicare, speaking to an agent is the best way to make sure you’re getting the right plan.  

What Does AEP Stand for Medicare?

Your newfound knowledge on Medicare will be essential for understanding and navigating aspects of health insurance. One of the most important things to know about is Medicare AEP, which stands for the Annual Enrollment Period. 

What Does AEP Really Mean?

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Program runs during a specific time of year, typically from October 15th to December 7th. These dates are set each year. During this time period, you have the option of changing Medicare coverage choices if the ones you currently have are not working. This is essential because it allows you to change aspects of your Medicare that either you don’t need or aren’t providing you with the type of coverage you do need.

The changes you make to your coverage will go into effect at the start of the New Year on January 1st. The best part is that you can keep changing your coverage as it suits you, although you’ll have to wait from January to October before officially filing for the change. 

Things You Can Do During the Medicare AEP

Now, let’s review exactly what changes you can make to your coverage during the Annual Enrollment Period. This is important because it clarifies what is possible and what is not! A specialized insurance agent like the ones at Policy Solver would also be a good source of reference when learning how to switch coverage. 

  • You can switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Medicare Original. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies. These companies have been Medicare-approved and must follow insurance rules provided by Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans can be helpful, but you may find they are not strictly necessary. 
  • You can change which Advantage plan you have. You might find that coverage and prices change from company to company, and the Annual Enrollment Period is the perfect time to find the right Advantage plan for you. 
  • You can go from Medicare Original to Medicare Advantage. Medicare Part A and Part B are known as Medicare Original, and they consist of primarily inpatient and outpatient insurance. If you need something more, AEP is the time of year to find an Advantage plan. 
  • You can add Medicare Part D to your coverage plan. Medicare Part D is meant to assist with the cost of prescription drugs, so it can be extremely helpful for anyone who needs lots of prescription medication. With Part D, you would pay a monthly premium to your insurance carrier as well as some copays on your medication.
  • You can change your Medicare Part D plan – or cancel it altogether! After a year or so on your current Medicare Part D, you may decide it simply isn’t for you and wish to cancel it. In the same vein, you may want to switch your Part D plan to another company that will better fit your circumstances. Either way, the Annual Enrollment Program is the time to do it!

These are a few important changes that you can make during AEP Medicare. As stated before, these changes can be complicated and often involve navigating complex insurance plans. If you would feel more comfortable and knowledgeable with professional assistance, an agent is a good idea.

What To Know Before Making Changes to Your AEP Medicare

The most important thing to remember about making changes during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is that they are not easy to reverse, and the process of undoing can take some time. For example, if you decide to drop your Medicare Part D, this will go into effect on January 1st. If you realize that Medicare Part D was actually very useful to you, you will need to wait to change it back during AEP, and then wait some more for it to go into effect. If you don’t like how that works, you can get medicare supplement insurance.

All of this is to say that you should be absolutely sure about the change in plan, and know exactly how it will impact your life. If you switch to an Advantage plan with higher premiums, you need to know that you can maintain those payments consistently. It is the same with coverage – study up before you change so you won’t get caught unaware by what isn’t covered.

Consider which healthcare providers and pharmacies will be within your plan’s network. This is essential, because it can save you money and travel time when you finally need them. To summarize, the most important things to know before making changes during the AEP are the following: changing costs, coverage, your network, and the longevity of the change.

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Medicare AEP VS Medicare OEP

When you research Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period, you will probably get it confused with a very similar process: the Open Enrollment Period, or the OEP. While context must be taken into account, there are some key differences between Medicare AEP and Medicare OEP.

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is a different enrollment period, usually for Medicare Advantage. This period lasts each year from January 1st to March 31st. During the OEP, you can make a variety of changes to your Medicare Advantage. Unlike AEP, which always goes into effect on January 1st, any changes you make during the OEP will go into effect on the first day of the month following your change being processed. 

Here are some other changes you can make during the Open Enrollment Period. Some of these will overlap with the opportunities available during AEP.

  • Switch from your current Medicare Advantage plan to a different one. If your plan doesn’t work for you, switch it anytime between January 1st to March 31st. 
  • Just like AEP will allow you to switch from Medicare Original to Medicare Advantage, the OEP can let you go from Medicare Original to Medicare Advantage. Keep in mind your current plan and what you are hoping to get from your health insurance.
  • You can enroll in or cancel a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan for prescription drug coverage. Most Medicare Advantage plans come with prescription coverage, but it is up to you whether or not you want a stand-alone plan. If you choose a stand-alone Part D plan, you may be unenrolled in Medicare Advantage and returned to Medicare Original.

What To Keep in Mind About Medicare AEP VS OEP

Although the Open Enrollment Period goes into effect sooner than the Annual Enrollment period, that doesn’t mean you can change your coverage every single month. You can make only one change during the Medicare Advantage OEP time period from January 1st to March 31st. If you still aren’t sure about your plan, you can wait until the Annual Enrollment Period opens in October.

The key difference to keep in mind with Medicare AEP and OEP is that the Open Enrollment Period is typically only for those who currently have a plan with Medicare Advantage. In contrast, the Annual Enrollment Period is for anyone with Medicare at all. This makes AEP the primary plan for those with Medicare hoping for changes in their coverage.

As we all know, health insurance can be truly confusing. AEP and OEP – who can keep it all straight? That is where we find ourselves at the end of this article with the last (but not least) important information you should know.

Where Can I Find Out More About AEP in Medicare and Get Advice on Medicare?

Today, you can find multiple insurance consultants on the internet. However, choosing the right advisor is another difficult task. If you are looking to find out more about AEP in Medicare, feel free to reach out to us at Policy Solver.  We have knowledgeable, licensed agents who are here to help you navigate through your medicare insurance journey. We are a team of professional insurance policy brokers and we can save you time and money while ensuring that you find the right policy for your specific needs.

Our experienced advisors will ask you a few questions to understand your unique situation. Next, they will come up with a comprehensive analysis of different insurance plans so they will be able to recommend the best policy at the best price for you! 

So, what are you waiting for? Contact us or schedule a free consultation, and we will get back to you soon!


“What’s Medicare?” Medicare, https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/your-medicare-coverage-choices/whats-medicare. 

“The Pros and Cons of Medicare.” The Pros and Cons of Medicare | HelpAdvisor.com, https://www.helpadvisor.com/medicare/pros-and-cons-of-medicare. 

“The Advantages and Disadvantages of Medicare.” MedicareSupplement.com, 23 Oct. 2019, https://www.medicaresupplement.com/coverage/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-medicare/. 

“What Is the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?” AARP Medicare Plans from UnitedHealthcare, https://www.aarpmedicareplans.com/medicare-articles/what-is-the-medicare-annual-enrollment-period.html#:~:text=The%20Medicare%20Annual%20Enrollment%20Period%20%E2%80%93%20AEP%20for%20short%20%E2%80%93%20is%20a,into%20effect%20on%20January%201. 

“Medicare Advantage Plans.” Medicare, https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/types-of-medicare-health-plans/medicare-advantage-plans. 

Jagger Esch Medicare Expert https://www.medicarefaq.com/ “Medicare AEP vs Oep.” MedicareFAQ, 5 Oct. 2021, https://www.medicarefaq.com/faqs/medicare-aep-vs-oep/. 

Stephanie Wilson


November 30, 2021

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