As a Medicare beneficiary, you’ve probably realized that Medicare changes every year. It adjusts your premiums and deductibles and this in turn causes updates to your chosen Medicare insurance plan. Your Medicare Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) letter can help prepare you for the changes that your Medicare plan will make for the following year.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan or a stand-alone Part D drug plan you will receive an ANOC (People with only a Medigap plan don’t receive these because Medigap plans do not have benefit changes from year to year).
What is an Annual Notice of Change?
An Annual Notice of Change is a document you receive in the mail that explains the changes that your Medicare Plan has made. Some changes you can see on an ANOC letter are increases or decreases in your monthly premiums, charges (copays, deductibles, etc.) service area, and drug formulary.
When Do Changes Go into Effect?
If your plan makes changes, the modifications will go into effect as of January 1st the following year.
When Do I Receive My ANOC?
Medicare states on their website that you should expect to receive your Annual Notice of Change each year during the month of September. You should receive you letter no later than September 30th.
What Do I Do with My ANOC?
As soon as you receive your Annual Notice of Change, you will want to review it thoroughly. Make sure you can afford the changes in costs. You will also want to make sure you are still within the plan’s service area. Look for any medications that you take that are being dropped or are moving from one tier to another which will affect your copay for that medication.
What If I Don’t Like the Changes?
If you are not okay with the Medicare changes that your plan makes, you can always switch plans. The reason your carrier must send you the ANOC in September is so you have time to switch plans during the Annual Election Period (AEP).
What is the Annual Election Period?
Every year, Medicare offers this period during which people can change their Medicare Advantage plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan. If you have a stand-alone Part D drug plan, you can change to a different Part D drug plan.
Another change you can make during the AEP is switching from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare. Many people who do this also for a Part D drug plan to go alongside their Original Medicare.
The Annual Election Period begins on October 15th and ends on December 7th each year. Any plan changes you make during this period will go into effect on January 1st of the following year.
It’s important to note that the Annual Election Period has nothing to do with Medigap plans. Some people think that this period can also be used to switch Medigap plans without going through medical underwriting. That’s not the case at all.
You can certainly apply for a Medigap plan during this period, but in most states you’ll be required to answer health questions. An underwriting will review your Medigap application and will decide whether to approve or decline your request for coverage.
You can apply to switch Medigap plans anytime throughout the year, but unless you are still within your one-time Open Enrollment Period has ended, you will most likely have to go through medical underwriting.
How Our Medicare Brokerage Can Help
If you conclude that your plan’s upcoming changes won’t affect you much, you can let your plan automatically renew. However, if the explanation of changes worries you, working with a Medicare broker like Boomer Benefits can help.
We are able to look through multiple Medicare Advantage and Part D plans from several insurance carriers. This way you are able to review all the price quotes from one place.
An even better benefit when enrolling through Boomer Benefits is our Client Service Team. Our Client Service Team is a completely free service we offer to all of our clients. Whenever you have problems with doctor offices, coverage issues, or pretty much anything else dealing with your Medicare plan, our Client Service Team will be ready to assist you.