If you have any Medicare plan beyond Parts A and B, you receive a plan Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) every September. This is true for all plans except for Original Medicare, including Medicare Advantage (MA) and Medicare Part D. In this post, we explain what changes the ANOC may include and why it’s so important for you to review it.
What Is the Annual Notice of Change?
Every September, Medicare plans send beneficiaries the Annual Notice of Change. This document details the changes you can expect from your plan in the coming year. There are nearly always changes, which may include coverage, costs, and your network or service area. Changes detailed in the ANOC take effect January 1.
If you do not receive your ANOC by September 30, call your plan.
What Is the Evidence of Coverage?
Typically, your plan sends the ANOC at the same time it sends the Evidence of Coverage (EOC). This document provides greater detail about your plan’s costs and coverage. Combined with the ANOC, the EOC plays a vital role in helping you compare coverage options during the Open Enrollment Period that runs from October 15 through December 7.
What Changes Can You Expect in the ANOC?
Most plans have at least some type of change from year to year. The most common changes are:
Your plan is ending next year.
Your plan may decide to terminate its contract with Medicare (or Medicare may make the termination). It may also be replaced with another plan, or simply make changes to the service area so that it no longer includes you. In the event your MA plan ends and you do nothing during Open Enrollment, you’ll likely be placed back in Original Medicare. However, if your Part D plan ends and you do nothing, you lose prescription drug coverage. And that could cost you in the form of late penalties once you enroll in a new Part D plan.
Your costs may change.
One of the most common changes is to your cost sharing levels. This includes monthly premiums, co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles.
The plan formulary may change.
Your plan may add or subtract (or both) certain medications from its drug list. If your prescription is no longer covered and you received notification via the ANOC and EOC, you may be stuck paying out-of-pocket for the entire year.
Restrictions may change.
Your drug plan may add or remove authorization or step therapy requirements for one or all medications you take. It may also impose or lift quantity restrictions.
Benefit coverage may change.
Your plan may increase or decrease its coverage. For example, a Part D plan may provide extra coverage for beneficiaries in the donut hole. Or, an MA plan may stop covering services not provided for under Part B.
The information provided in the ANOC is intended to help you determine your best Medicare plan options next year.
Why Should You Read the Annual Notice of Change?
Your Medicare plan’s Annual Notice of Change is one of the most important healthcare documents you receive every year. It details vitally important information about your costs, coverage, and more to ensure you get the best medical and prescription drug coverage at the best price.
Plans send out these notices to allow you ample time to review them before Open Enrollment. During those eight weeks, beneficiaries can – and should – compare their current and projected healthcare needs with their current coverage (as per the ANOC and EOC). Then, compare your needs with other coverage options.
Remember: Your plan isn’t the only one changing next year. All of the plans change from year to year. Costs go up or down, coverage broadens or narrows, drug formularies change. In other words, the plan that was the best choice for you this year may not be the best choice for you next year.
Will Medicare Call about Changes?
No, these notices come directly from your plan, not Medicare. Lack of understanding about these communications is what leaves beneficiaries vulnerable to scam artists.
It’s important to remember that Medicare will never call to ask you for your Social Security Number, banking information, or anything else. Your plan sends the ANOC and EOC automatically. There is nothing you need to do other than ensure the correct mailing address is on file with both your plan and Social Security.
What Should You Do Next?
Review the ANOC and EOC as soon as you get them. Do they include changes to items you rely on? For example, your Part D plan may cease covering one or more of your prescriptions. Or, it may impose a higher co-pay or deductible. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, your healthcare provider may no longer be part of your network.
Devoting a few hours of your time to comparing plan options against your coverage needs could result in significant savings next year. Failure to do so could cost you.
Comparing Your Medicare Options
Determining which plan is best for you can be challenging to say the least. Are you better off with Original Medicare plus Part D and Medigap plans? Or would a single Medicare Advantage Plan offer comparable coverage at a better price? With so many options, it can be difficult to decide. Our licensed agents can answer any questions you have. Just call us toll-free at 855-350-8101 (TTY 711) to get started.