We are just a few short weeks away from Medicare’s Annual Election Period! And that means that you should be receiving your Medicare Annual Notice of Change letter very soon if you haven’t already.
You probably know by now that Medicare plans change every year. The way you stay on top of those changes is by reading your Annual Notice of Change or ANOC. This document outlines any changes that may be coming to your premium, deductible, cost-sharing, or coverage.
The ANOC will help you prepare for the upcoming Annual Election Period. Are you ready?
All Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (Part C) or prescription drug plan (Part D) will receive an Annual Notice of Change letter. The insurance carriers send these letters out every year in September. You should have your letter no later than September 30.
The insurance carrier will send the ANOC to the address that you have on file with the Medicare program. This is one reason why you need to inform Medicare of any changes to your address.
Beneficiaries who are enrolled in a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan will not receive an ANOC for that plan as those benefits never change.
The ANOC is the document that outlines any changes to your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan. These two kinds of Medicare plans operate on annual contracts, which means they often change their coverage and costs each year. The ANOC outlines those changes so that current enrollees can decide if they want to continue with their current plan or shop for new coverage.
It’s unheard of for insurance companies not to change at least one thing about the plan. Many times, it’s a benefit to the beneficiary, but not all changes are good. For example, a prescription you’ve been taking for years may not be covered when the plan changes the following year. Small details like this could cost you hundreds of dollars if you don’t catch them.
The costs of Medicare Advantage and Part D plans also change frequently due to changes to the Medicare program itself. Standard deductibles and other regulations are frequently updated, which means the Medicare Advantage and Part D plans must change accordingly.
Plan modifications go into effect on January 1 of the following year. Since you should receive the Annual Notice of Change letter in late September, this should allow you plenty of time to review the updates and consider other coverage.
The first thing you need to do when you receive your ANOC is to review the changes. Take a look at the premium, deductible, cost-sharing amounts, and maximum out-of-pocket (if you have a Medicare Advantage plan). You should also review the drug formulary and any extra benefits. Lastly, check the provider or pharmacy networks to ensure you can keep using the same providers.
Here are a few questions to ask when reviewing the Annual Notice of Change:
Does the plan still cover all your current medications?
Are there any coverage restrictions to treatment or prescriptions?
What are the copays for medical services?
What will the new monthly premium be?
Did the deductible increase?
Will my providers and/or pharmacies accept the plan next year?
If you don’t like the changes outlined in the ANOC, it’s time to go shopping!
Actually, even if you think you’ll still like your plan in the following year, we’d still suggest you take the time to review your Medicare Advantage or Part D plans during the Annual Election Period.
AEP begins on October 15 and ends on December 7. During this time, you can shop for other Medicare plans and compare them to the one you currently have. If you find a plan that fits your needs and budget better, you can make a change during AEP. New plans to into effect on January 1.
You don’t have to go through all this work alone. By working with a local insurance agent near you, you can ensure you get the plan you need at a price you can afford. The experts at Local Medicare Specialists are here to analyze your Medicare plans and compare them to other options on the market.
Call Local Medicare Specialists today to speak with a local Medicare advisor near you.
Schedule a FREE Medicare plan consultation with an agent in your neighborhood.
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We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area which are United Healthcare, Aetna, Humana, Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Centene, Devoted, and Scan. Please contact Medicare.gov, 1-800-MEDICARE, or your local State Health Insurance Program to get information on all of your options.