If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, or a Part D drug plan, you will receive an Annual Notice of Changes document around September 30th from your insurance company. This is a highly detailed document that outlines coverage changes in Medicare plans for the upcoming year. Make sure to review this document prior to the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) to ensure your current Medicare plan still meets your needs. Original Medicare and Medicare Supplement plan participants do not receive this notice.
All Medicare Advantage plans are required to send the Annual Notice of Changes (ANOC) document to members no later than September 30, or fifteen days before the start of the AEP. If you don’t receive a notice, contact the insurance company that administers your plan to make sure they have the right address on file. The AEP runs from October 15th – December 7th. Changes made to your plan during this time will go into effect on January 1st of the following year.
So, what can you expect to see in the ANOC? How can you use it to make the proper plan decisions for the upcoming year? Read on to find out.
What Should You Look for in the ANOC?
Your ANOC compares your current year’s plan to the same plan for next year. It includes changes to your plan such as your premium, service area, and benefits covered. It is important to look through the ANOC, as there might be significant changes to your current plan. These changes, even if they seem small at first glance, can amount to large expenses when cumulated over a year-long period. There is potential for an increase in benefits on plans too, so make sure to read the document in its entirety.
When reading through your ANOC, consider the following:
- Are your medications still included in the same tiers?
- Have out of pocket maximums changed?
- Will copays or coinsurance change?
- Did the monthly premium increase?
- Has the deductible for the drug plan increased?
- Are there coverage changes to my prescriptions?
- Are your doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies in network?
- Does your current plan still fit your needs?
Why Care about the ANOC?
Changes in plan coverage can make a big difference in the cost of a plan. Oftentimes, the coverage most affected by policy changes is prescription drug coverage. If you take medications daily, changes to deductibles, copayments, and annual maximum limits can significantly increase healthcare costs. If these changes occur, it may make sense to look at your options and possibly find a different plan with benefits and costs that closer meet your needs.
Even if you see no significant changes in a plan’s ANOC, you might still benefit from comparing the plan you have to other options available on the market. There are many options available, and prices sometimes vary greatly for coverage which is nearly identical. Therefore, it’s worth checking to see if you can get the same or increased health benefits at a lower cost with a different plan.
Do You Need to Take Action?
If you have difficulty understanding the ANOC, connect with the Guided Medicare team. You can call us at (800) 351-7850 or request a consultation. We know Medicare and are here to provide personalized, unbiased support to help ensure you’re on the right plan for your specific healthcare needs.
For more information about Medicare, view our Medicare page.