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Medicare Alphabet Soup



Working with Medicare everyday, our office throws around lingo and acronyms that might confuse folks new to Medicare. IEP, AEP, SEP, OEP. These aren’t 3 letter curse words. Let’s clear up what these Medicare terms mean.


IEP – Initial Enrollment Period

  • This is the period when you are turning 65 and are enrolling into a Medicare plan. In addition, it is also for people who continued to work past age 65, but is your first time signing up for Medicare. You can continue to work and be covered under your employer health plan if there are 20+ employees on the plan, and the plan is considered “creditable coverage” (as good as Medicare coverage). If your employer plan meets those requirements, you can hold off signing up for Medicare with no harm, no foul, and no penalty when you enroll at a later date.


AEP – Annual Enrollment Period

  • Annual Enrollment is from October 15th – December 7th. This window is your once-a-year period to switch Medicare plans for the following year. Some people confuse this with “Open Enrollment.”


OEP – Open Enrollment Period

  • Open Enrollment is from January 1st – March 31st. This window allows you to make a change if you selected the wrong Medicare Advantage plan during AEP. You are allowed to make a one-time correction for the current year. There are many rules and regulations on switching during this time, so it’s best to seek professional assistance.


SEP – Special Enrollment Period

  • A Special Enrollment Period comes in many flavors. This is an exception that occurs with your health coverage that also affects your Medicare plan or eligibility. One of the most common SEPs occur when you move out of your current coverage area and lose your Medicare Advantage Plan or Drug Plan. You are granted a “Special Enrollment Period” to pick a new Medicare Plan in the new area you move to.


Part A – Hospital Coverage – In patient

Part B – Medical Services – Doctor’s visits (in or out of hospital, labs, x-rays, etc.)

Part C – Medicare Advantage Plans (all in one, network based plans)

Part D – Prescription Drug Plan – Independent prescription drug plan that pairs with original Medicare and/or a Medigap Plan (Medicare Supplement)

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