The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) begins on October 15 and runs through December 7. Will you be ready? The first step is knowing which Medicare Health Plan you have.

There are two major types:

  • Medicare Supplement
  • Medicare Advantage

These plans are quite different when it comes to how they work and the benefits they provide. Below, you can see how they compare.

Key Takeaways

  • The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) runs from October 15 to December 7.
  • During this period, you can apply for Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or supplement plans.
  • Understanding the different types of Medicare plans is essential before the annual enrollment period.

Medicare Supplement Plans

For those who aren’t familiar with Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, here’s what you need to know:

  • Work in unison with and as a secondary form of coverage to Traditional Medicare Parts A & B. A Medicare Supplement Insurance plan pays most, if not all, of what Medicare does not.
  • Don’t have networks. Because they aren’t Health Maintenance Organization or Preferred Provider Organization plans, you have your choice of any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare.
  • Are funded entirely by policyholder premiums. This allows companies to keep benefits the same every year.
  • Travel with you in all 50 states. Your plan works the same out-of-state as it does in your home state.

Medicare Advantage Plans

Medicare Advantage plans do all of the following:

  • Offer an alternative way to get your Medicare Part A & B benefits. A Medicare Advantage plan works as your primary insurance instead of Original Medicare and must offer, at the least, the same level of benefits as Original Medicare. You must pay all your deductibles, copays, coinsurance and your Medicare Part B premium.
  • Are network plans. Since they are Health Management Organization (HMO) and Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans, there may be restrictions on which doctors and hospitals you can use.
  • Funded by government subsidies and policyholder premiums. This is critical because as government appropriations get cut, premiums may increase as benefits decrease.
  • May not cover you in other states (except in emergencies). Many Medicare Advantage Plans only cover out-of-state treatment in the event of an emergency.