The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is Open


The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is Open


Oct. 15 marks the start of the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), a time for Medicare beneficiaries to make important decisions about their healthcare coverage options for 2022. From Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, your Medicare-eligible loved ones will need to decide if they want to make changes to their coverage or enroll in a new plan. 

Keep in mind that choosing a plan isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s important to do your research and understand all of the options available. While this decision can feel stressful, with the proper tools and educational materials you’ll feel more confident helping your loved one choose a plan that’s right for their unique health needs. 

Below, I share my best tips for navigating the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period based on my personal and professional experiences — as a former caregiver to my parents and president of Aetna Medicare. 

Master the basics 

As with any decision, to make the right one for you, it’s critical to understand the basics. Medicare is separated into four parts – A, B, C, and D. While this can feel more confusing than “basic,” it often helps to see it broken down: 

  • Medicare Part A – Hospital Insurance 
  • Medicare Part B – Medical Insurance 
  • Medicare Part C – Medicare Advantage 
  • Medicare Part D – Prescription Drug Coverage 

Original Medicare (Parts A & B) covers some of the costs of hospital stays (Part A) and doctor visits (Part B). A common misconception about Original Medicare is that it pays for everything, when in reality it does not. Everyone who is enrolled in Original Medicare pays a premium for medical (or Part B) coverage.

Medicare Advantage plans (Part C), on the other hand, are offered by private insurance companies through a contract with the federal government. These plans cover Original Medicare, but they can also include prescription drug coverage (Part D) and extra benefits like dental, vision, hearing care, and fitness programs. Private insurers also offer Medicare Supplement plans (also called Medigap) to fill “gaps” in Original Medicare.

When the time comes to decide, it’s important to think about what combination of these coverage types might be best suited for your loved one and their unique needs. Click here to download a comparison chart that can help you explore more options. 

Learn more about how Medicare works in What’s the Difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

Keep up with Medicare innovations 

The enrollment process often looks similar year-to-year, but the benefits offered continue to evolve. When helping your loved one choose a plan, think about what types of support they most need. For example, if you are a caregiver who provides care from a different state and can’t be with your loved one as much as you’d like to be, you might want to consider a Medicare Advantage plan that offers non-clinical services such as companionship benefits.

Recently, Aetna announced its 2022 Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, featuring expanded benefits focused on a holistic approach to health. For example, in select plans, Aetna offers a healthy foods benefit card, utilities debit card, and fall prevention allowances for items that help lower the risk of injury from falls in the home. This announcement also included new Medicare Advantage plan options, including Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans (D-SNP) for people who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid and the expansion of Aetna Medicare Eagle® plans, designed especially for Veterans, in additional states. 

Since individual Medicare Advantage plans often differ in areas like member costs, doctor networks, prescription drug coverage, and extra benefits, it’s important to compare plans carefully. Click to download the following worksheet which can remind you of core considerations, help you compare plans, and give you space to record your own notes. 

Account for flexible care options

The pandemic highlighted the need for virtual care options. It also shed light on shifting patient and provider preferences. In fact, CVS Health’s Health Care Insights Study found that 80 percent of providers felt that virtual care improved their ability to provide care to patients. Additionally, 60 percent of those aged 65 and older said that virtual care is either the same or much/somewhat better than the care they receive during an in-person visit. 

When thinking about what plan might be right for your loved one, consider how their coverage needs have adapted over the past year. Whether they’re looking for care primarily in-person, virtually, or a mix of both, it’s important to ensure the plan your loved one chooses allows for options. 

For example, all Aetna 2022 Medicare Advantage plans will cover telehealth visits for primary care, urgent care and specialty care provided by a doctor, including mental health services. That means, depending on location, members will be able to schedule telehealth visits 24/7 via MinuteClinic Video Visit™, Teladoc®, or another network provider offering this service.

If you’re interested in learning more about Aetna’s 2022 Medicare plans visit or call 1-844-588-0135 (TTY: 711), 7 days a week, 8 AM to 8 PM. A licensed agent will answer your call.

For more tips and resources throughout the entire Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, be sure to visit:

See Evidence of Coverage for a complete description of plan benefits, exclusions, limitations and conditions of coverage. Plan features and availability may vary by service area. 

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