Making Sense of the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

Even though the Medicare Annual Enrollment period happens every year, many people find it a bit confusing. But it doesn’t have to be. This article will help you make sense of it all, so you can make the best choices for your health — with confidence.

What is Medicare Annual Enrollment (AEP)?

It’s the one time of year when all Medicare-eligible people can pick their health and prescription coverages for the next calendar year. You may also hear this referred to as the “Medicare sign up period,” “Medicare open season” or “filing for Medicare benefits.” 

During AEP, you can select Original Medicare coverage (also known as Part A & Part B) and prescription drug coverage (Part D). Or you can also choose an all-in-one Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) that typically includes your medical coverages, plus prescriptions, dental, vision and hearing. 

What are the Medicare enrollment dates?

The Medicare AEP 2021 dates are as follows: 

October 15th: first day to enroll

December 7th: last day to enroll

Do I need to enroll every year?

It’s important to actively choose your coverage for the next year. Here’s why: Medicare plans often change from one year to the next. So, you should make sure you’re aware of any changes, and how they’ll affect your costs and coverage. Keep in mind, your healthcare needs may also have changed since you chose your current plan.

The Annual Enrollment Period 2021 is your opportunity to shop around to see if there’s a better plan offered by your current insurance provider, or even a different company. Remember, the choice is up to you. 

How do I know if my current plan will be changing?

Every fall you should receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) from your health insurance company. This notice outlines any expected changes to your plan’s costs, healthcare benefits or physician network. You can also contact the health insurance company directly to ask questions.  

What if I miss the AEP Medicare 2021 deadline?

If you miss the December 7th deadline, your current coverage may automatically renew for the next year. But again, you are better off making an informed choice for yourself, rather than letting the coverage just roll over into the next year.  

What’s the difference between open enrollment and annual enrollment?

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is your chance to choose coverage for the NEXT calendar year. The period runs from October 15 - December 7, 2021 to select a plan for 2022.

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is for people who signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan (during the Annual Enrollment Period) and would like to make a change for the CURRENT calendar year. This period runs from January 1 - March 31, 2022. It’s essentially a “do-over” if you are unhappy with the choice you made during AEP. 

How do I get started?

There are plenty of resources out there. You can visit the websites of private health insurance companies to gather information or call them to get price/plan quotes. You can also visit the Federal Government's Medicare information website at

Another popular option is to contact a Medicare agency like SeekMedicare. You’ll be able to speak with licensed Medicare experts who can answer your questions and help you sign up for Medicare plans in your area. 

At SeekMedicare, we’ll compare plans across different insurance companies and provide an objective evaluation. Then we’ll give you a personalized recommendation for the best plan in your area that meets your needs — no matter which insurance company offers it. And we provide this service absolutely free with no obligation to enroll.

So, when it comes to Medicare Annual Enrollment, here are 3 important takeaways: 

1) Remember the enrollment dates.

2) Do your research or contact a licensed Medicare agency for help.

3) Evaluate all your options. Your current plan may not be the best option, so be sure to shop around.

When you remember these important items, you’ll be in the best position to get the Medicare coverage that fits your needs.


  1. Make a note of the deadlines
    Open enrollment runs from October 15th - December 7th. You must enroll by the deadline to ensure coverage for 2022.

  2. Review your current coverage
    Plans change yearly. You should receive an annual notice of change alerting you of adjustments to your benefits or costs for 2022.

  3. Make a list of your doctors
    This will help you choose a plan with a network that includes the doctors you know and trust.

  4. Estimate your monthly budget for healthcare expenses
    There are many Medicare plans to choose from, with a range of benefits and costs.

  5. Ask about all-in-one Medicare Advantage plans
    These plans include the benefits of Medicare Parts A & B, plus prescription coverage, dental, vision and other valuable benefits.

Ask a question

Have questions about Medicare?

We’re here to answer!

Give us a call at1-844-955-3690
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To speak with one of our licensed agents, call 1-844-955-3690

When you sign up for a plan through SeekMedicare, whenever you need help — whether for a specific question, a mid-year plan review, or during the annual enrollment period — we’ll be here to guide you every step of the way.