In September each year, you will receive a notice called an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) from your Medicare Advantage Plan or your Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. This notice is intended to make you aware of any changes for your plan starting January 1. These changes can include increases or decreases in monthly premium and copay costs, formulary changes in drugs covered, tier levels and pharmacy network. If you have not received this ANOC by September 30, call your plan and request it. Do not assume that what you selected for the current year will remain the same and do not assume that it will be the best option for you in the following year.
Medicare gives beneficiaries a chance to review and change Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D Prescription Drug Plans during the Annual Open Enrollment Period (AOEP). The AOEP is from October 15th - December 7th . Comparison can be done using the Medicare website, medicare.gov, under the option “Find Health and Drug Plans.” This site has information on all available plans.If, after your review, you find a plan with a better fit for your needs, you can change plans and enroll online. Your new plan would be effective January 1 of the next year.
Medicare beneficiaries who have access to a computer would benefit from setting up a Medicare account on the medicare.gov website. This account will allow you to add your drugs once and then add new drugs, change doses or remove drugs no longer needed. The comparison of plans becomes quicker and easier. The Medicare account can also give you information about processed claims from your providers.
Retiree coverage from a former employer may have different dates and different instructions for making changes
If you have retiree coverage from a former employer, you will also be provided with benefit and cost information for the next year, including instructions for making changes to your coverage. Retiree Option Selection Period and Federal Open Season are terms meaning the same as Annual Open Enrollment Period, but may have different rules and dates for making changes. Even with a retiree plan, you will receive an ANOC by September 30. The ANOC must state that your retiree prescription coverage is "creditable", meaning that it is as good as, or better than, the Medicare Part D Plans. This is an important letter, so keep it with your plan information.
Other important mailings you may receive during AOEP
Other mailings that you may receive during the AOEP could include information regarding "Extra Help" (Part D assistance for qualifying beneficiaries), Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D "Income-Related Medicare Adjustment Amount" (IRMAA), PACE/PACENET, and a new "Medicare and You" handbook. If you receive forms to be completed that will continue your benefits, complete them promptly and return them so that your help does not end due to failure to respond.
Plans that are NOT affected by the AOEP
Medicare Supplement Plans, also known as Medigap Plans, are not affected by the AOEP. You would probably be subject to medical underwriting for changes to one of these plans if you are not in a "guarantee issue" period. However, beneficiaries with a Medigap Plan may have a Part D Prescription Plan that needs to be reviewed annually during AOEP.