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November 29, 2023
3 Common Mistakes You Won't Want to Make During Medicare Enrollment

3 Common Mistakes You Won't Want to Make During Medicare Enrollment

Let's take a look at three of the most common Medicare enrollment mistakes we see people make and how to avoid them.

As always, if you have specific questions about your own personal enrollment, please feel free to reach out to us. We are here to help with any step of the Medicare process!

Mistake #1: Not Paying Attention to Enrollment Deadlines

There are a few key enrollment dates you don't want to miss.

Missing key deadlines can make it more difficult to enroll in the future. You could also be penalized, and sometimes, those penalties can last for the rest of your life.

Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

Once you're a Medicare beneficiary, you'll have the option to make changes to your health and drug plans every fall.

This window of time lasts from October 15-December 7, and it's called the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). Some people call it the Annual Election Period, but it's the same thing.

During this time, you can make changes to Medicare Advantage – like an HMO or PPO – and/or Part D prescription drug plans.

Tip: This enrollment period does not have anything to do with Medicare Supplement coverage, just so you know!

If you don't make changes now, you're stuck in the same plan(s) for the following year. Shopping the market again can save you hundreds of dollars as companies typically come out with more competitive plans each and every year.

Even if you're inching towards December 7th, it's not too late!

Call our office and we'll take a look at your situation and see if we can better it.

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

The most important date you do not want to miss is your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP).

The IEP is the seven-month period surrounding your 65th birthday. That’s the month of your birthday, the three months before it, and the three months after it.

During your IEP, you can enroll in Medicare for the first time.

Ignoring your IEP can lead to premium penalty fees that will follow you for your entire Medicare experience.

Medigap Open Enrollment Period

It’s also important to make sure you take advantage of your Medigap Open Enrollment Period if you are planning on enrolling in a Medicare Supplement plan.

You have six months after your 65th birthday to enroll in a Medigap plan, so long as you are previously enrolled in Medicare Part B (which is required for Medigap enrollment).

Missing this enrollment period means you may have to go through a process known as medical underwriting to enroll in a Medigap plan in the future.

Depending on your health, medical underwriting may affect your options. Those with health conditions may also experience coverage denial and increased premium rates.

Want to learn more about important Medicare dates? Check out our previous post: Save the Date for These Medicare Deadlines

Mistake #2: Not Doing a Full Comparison of Your Plan Options

When it comes to Medicare coverage, you have options!

If you don't compare your choices, you may really hate your plan or realize later on that you're paying way too much.

You have two main paths to consider: Medigap (also called Medicare Supplements) or Medicare Advantage (also called Part C).

What is Medigap?

Medigap, or Medicare Supplement insurance, fills in coverage gaps in traditional Medicare. It primarily helps cover deductibles, coinsurance, and copays.

Government regulation makes these plans uniform in offerings, but cost and availability can vary. We can help you navigate the plans available in your area and explain the differences between different plan offerings.

What is Medicare Advantage?

Medicare Advantage is a type of insurance plan that takes the place of traditional Medicare.

Because it’s administered by privately owned insurance companies (like Aetna or Humana), coverage offerings can be more unique and include extra perks, such as dental or prescription drug coverage.

There are other differences between the two plans that you should know as you explore your options, including when you can enroll.

We have another blog post that looks at the core differences between the two and helps explain the pros and cons of each. Check it out here!

Mistake #3: Not Reviewing Your Annual Notice of Change

This tip applies to those who are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Part D drug plan, but we’re including it because not reviewing your Annual Notice of Change can negatively affect your future coverage.

The Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) is a document your insurance provider sends out in September every year to alert you to coverage changes taking place in the upcoming calendar year.

Your plan may alter their coverage of your preferred providers, prescriptions, or copays and deductibles, and the ANOC is their way of letting you know. If you don’t review it carefully, you might end up footing the bill for something you thought was covered.

Want to know more about the ANOC? Check out this blog post all about making sense of your Annual Notice of Change.

Luckily, there’s a reason the ANOC comes out in September, and that’s to give you time to enroll in a different plan if your need to make coverage changes. The Annual Enrollment Period takes place every year from October 15-December 7.

It is, in most cases, the only time per year you can makes changes to your Part D Drug Plan coverage or Medicare Advantage plan.


Medicare enrollment can seem tricky.

Between deadlines and plan options, it can feel like navigating your way through a maze. Luckily, you don’t have to go through it alone.

Whatever stage you're in along Medicare journey, from newly 65 to dissatisfied with your current coverage, we are here to help!

If you’ve already made one of these mistakes, don’t panic. Reach out to our office and we can help you get back on track. Give us a shout and we’ll help you avoid or come back from these three common Medicare mistakes.

Luke Hockaday
Luke Hockaday
Luke Hockaday is a Customer Success Rep here at Senior Allies. Luke has been helping Medicare-eligible clients with their insurance and retirement-planning needs since 2011. Luke is passionate about 3 things, and 3 things only: senior insurance, football, and food!

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