Fall has arrived, and with it, the upcoming Annual Enrollment Period. This can be a time of chaos and confusion in the Medicare world, and we want to do our best to ensure you are prepared for it.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the Annual Notice of Change, or ANOC, that your current insurance carrier must send out every year by the end of September. We’ll talk about what it is, why it’s important, and what you should do once you receive your ANOC.
What is the Annual Notice of Change?
Just as the name implies, the ANOC document notifying you of changes that will be made to your Part C and/or Part D plans in the new year. Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Part D (prescription drug coverage) plans can and do change every single year. The carrier that you purchased the plan through is required to notify you of these changes but sending you the ANOC no later than September 30 of the current year.
The ANOC will inform you about changes in your premium, deductible, copayments, and coinsurance, as well as changes to the service area and coverage included in the plan. Part D changes may also include updates to the plan’s drug formulary.
In addition to the plan’s ANOC, you will also receive your current Evidence of Coverage (EOC).
What is the Evidence of Coverage?
Again, this is exactly what it sounds like. The EOC contains all the details about your current plan. Your carrier will send the EOC in the same package as the ANOC. This makes it easier for beneficiaries to compare their current coverage to the upcoming changes.
The EOC is a helpful document to keep as long as you are enrolled in the plan, as it may answer many of the questions you have throughout the year.
If you do not receive the ANOC and EOC early in October, you should call your plan’s carrier and request these documents. Also, be sure to update your address anytime there is a change. Do this with your private insurance carriers, as well as the Medicare program itself.
What do I do with these documents?
We know they aren’t the most entertaining reading, but it is important that you read these Medicare documents. Sometimes your plan won’t change at all or will just have minor changes. But other times, there are very significant changes to your plan. If you don’t address these changes, you could end up spending more money on healthcare than you should have.
However, you do not have to do this on your own! While it’s great for you to read through these documents, that’s also what we’re here for. Each year during the Annual Enrollment Period, you should make an appointment with your advisor, and they can help you navigate the updates.
I do not like the changes I see in the ANOC. What should I do?
If you find that the new changes are not going to be suitable for you, the Annual Enrollment Period will allow you to change your Part C and/or Part D plan. Schedule an appointment with your agent as soon as you receive your ANOC. The AEP does last until December 7, but appointments fill up quickly, so do not postpone scheduling.
At your appointment, you and your agent will make a benefits comparison between your current plan and any others that may offer what you need. Regarding your Part D or prescription coverage, make sure to bring an updated, detailed list of your current medications. It is important to make sure each one is included in your plan’s drug formulary. Forgetting just one medication could cost you hundreds of dollars each year.
In addition to the benefits comparison, you and your agent will compare costs. More coverage is usually associated with higher premiums. We want to make sure you get the most value for your budget.
Lastly, let us know who your current providers are. Changes in your Medicare Advantage plan could include provider network changes, so we will need to discuss those as well. If you are shopping for a new Medicare Advantage plan, we’ll make sure we find one that includes your current providers.
What about changes to Medicare Parts A and B and my Medigap policy?
You will also receive an ANOC regarding your Medicare Parts A and B. This ANOC will come directly from the Medicare program. It will inform you of changes to your premium and deductible.
Medigap policies do not change. The premiums will increase over time, but since these plans are standardized, their coverage will always remain the same.
Fall is a busy time of year for all of us. Don’t let the chaos of the Annual Enrollment Period catch you off guard. As soon as you receive your ANOC, give The Medicare Help Desk a call and get on the schedule to review your plans.