In the Medicare world, OEP stands for Open Enrollment Period.  But wait, I thought we just had that at the end of last year?  No, that’s an AEP, which stands for Annual Enrollment Period.   Now I’m really confused…do I need to worry???  Probably not.

The 21st Century Cures Act eliminated the Medicare Advantage disenrollment period that used to take place each year, from January 1st to February 14th.  Again this year, Medicare is offering the Advantage Open Enrollment Period which will run from January 1st to March 31st.  So this pretty much applies to folks that are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.

What CAN beneficiaries do during OEP?

  – Switch to a different Advantage plan – one time;
  – Drop their Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare, Parts A & B;
  – Sign up for a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan with Original Medicare, if you drop your Advantage plan;

  – Apply for a Medicare Supplement plan (but enrollment is not guaranteed).

What CAN’T beneficiaries do during OEP?

  – Switch from Original Medicare to an Advantage plan;
  – Join a prescription drug plan if you’re only in Original Medicare;

  – Switch from one prescription drug plan to another.

What CAN’T an insurance agent do during OEP?

  – No soliciting!
  – No targeting!
  – No trying to change anyone’s mind about a prior enrollment!

  – No sales activities specifically targeting an OEP plan change!

So, the bottom line is that if you are on an Advantage plan and have just decided, either you will be better served with a different Advantage plan, or not an Advantage plan at all and want to go back to Original Medicare with a stand-alone drug plan and perhaps a Supplement/Medigap plan, now is the time to do it.