What is Medicare AEP
and what do you need
to know about your
choices and benefits?
By April Williamson, Office Manager/VP of Marketing and Scott Grow, VP of Healthcare
It’s that time of year again! AEP! What does this mean for you? AEP is the Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare. During this time you have the opportunity to make changes to various aspects of your coverage.
You can switch from a Medicare Supplement to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa. You can also switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, or from one Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan to another. And if you didn’t enroll in a Medicare Part D plan when you were first eligible, you can do so during the general open enrollment. (Please note that a late enrollment penalty might apply)
Why is it important to meet with a licensed representative during this time? Well to put it simply, there are a LOT of choices out there! Available plans vary by state and county and of course the correct plan for each individual varies based on their specific needs and circumstances.
Because of all these variables, it’s extremely important to sit down with someone who is able to guide you through your choices and make sure you choose the plan that most correctly fits your needs.
The AEP runs from October 15- December 7th, meaning that you have less than 2 months to meet with an advisor and make the right choice for your health insurance needs.
As a word of caution, ANY time ANYONE wants to visit you at your home or wants you to divulge personal information, it’s your responsibility to do your due diligence and make sure the representative is legitimate. In a society filled with dishonesty, scams and scandals it can be hard to know who to trust!
Fortunately there are a few easy steps you can take to make sure that the person you’ve set up a meeting with IS who they say they are.
When you book an appointment with a representative over the phone, be sure to get their FULL name and the name of the Company they represent. Your first step is to make sure that they are licensed to do what they say they do. If they are representing an insurance company, or a group that works with insurance companies, they are required to have a state insurance license. You can easily go online and do a search for the Department of Insurance for the state you live in. Each website usually has something called a “Producer Search” which allows you to inquire by Insurance License Number, or by name.
When you find the name of the person you’re looking for you will want to verify that their license is current and active. If you have trouble finding them, don’t hesitate to contact them back and ask for a State Insurance License Number. If you still can’t find it, or if it’s not active, do not meet with this person! Contact their company back and ask for a manager. The company should be able to provide you with a different representative who can help you. You can also contact the state Department of Insurance for more information on that individual.
If you DO find them online, you’ll also want to search further and see which companies they’re licensed with. If you don’t immediately see a particular company listed, don’t be alarmed. Insurance Agents frequently become contracted with new companies as rates fluctuate and products change. They just want to be able to offer their clients the very best options! But sometimes these companies take time to reflect those contracts in the State’s online system.
If the agent clears all the above filters, the last thing you’d want to do, is just verify that they are who they SAID they are, when they come to your house for their appointment. Asking to see a driver’s license or insurance license will not throw an honest agent off-guard. They will be happy to share their credentials with you. Hopefully they’ll tell you that they appreciate your diligence and that they’re glad to be working with someone who has taken steps to protect themselves in this crazy world we live in.