Understanding your Medicare Plan Annual Notice of Change

As the year comes to an end, Medicare beneficiaries start receiving Medicare information. Most of this information is to bring you up to date on the changes happening with Medicare for the following year to help you make choices regarding your coverage.

With Medicare Annual Enrollment starting Oct. 15th – Dec. 7, it is time to start thinking about next years coverage.

Out of all the information that will be mailed to you, you should take the time to read the Annual Notice of Change, (ANOC). This is typically sent to you and delivered by September 30th of every year by your specific healthcare plan.

What is included in your Medicare plan Annual Notice of Change

Your Medicare or Part D drug coverage change letter contains many different elements of valuable information.

Once you have received this letter, here is what you will find include:

Medicare Coverage changes:

  1. New benefits and services added, and services removed from the plan

Provider network changes:

  1. New providers added, and current providers removed from the network

Drug list and pharmacy network changes:

  1. Medications added and removed from the covered drug list formulary
  2. Pharmacy network changes

Cost changes:

  1. Premium cost changes, either rising in cost, going down or continuing the same
  2. Deductible, co-pay and co-insurance cost changes
  3. Medicare maximum out-of-pocket limit changes

What should you do if you do not get the notice?

Your plan should send you this notice in September. If you do not receive the notification, you should contact your plan as soon as possible.

You should receive a notice called the Evidence of Coverage (EOC) in September as well. Keep in mind that this is a document detailing your benefits, plan coverage, cost-sharing expense, and an overview of how your plan works. You can use this document along with your Medicare Plan Annual Notice of Change to evaluate your current policy to make the best choice for your situation.

Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans Can Change Every Year

Because private insurance companies that are under contract with Medicare, Medicare prescription drug plans and Advantage plans can change yearly. Generally, the plan details are reviewed each year and make changes to try and serve their plan members better.

If you notice that your plan did not make changes that affect your situation, you should still compare your coverage against other plans during the Annual Election Period. Since Medicare drug plans are sold by private insurance companies, you may find a more cost-effective alternative by shopping around. Keep in mind the Annual Election Period is a very short window from Oct 15th – Dec 7th. You can start shopping for new coverage from Oct 1st.

Now is the time to review next year’s plans, coverages and costs before they go into effect January 1st of the following year. You have time to make changes to any part of the plan that does not fit well with your needs or anything you do not understand.

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