Each year in September, anyone enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (Part C) or Prescription Drug (Part D) plan receives an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). While you may be tempted to toss it with your junk mail, this is an important piece of information you should carefully review.
The Annual Notice of Change letter is sent by your insurance company to detail any changes to your plan that will go into effect in January. You should use the ANOC to evaluate if your plan is still the right fit for you or if it’s time for a change in coverage. The changes consist of four main topics:
- Coverage changes
- Provider network changes
- Medication list and pharmacy network changes
- Cost changes
This article highlights four key questions to ask when you’re reviewing your ANOC.
Answers to find in your ANOC
How much is my plan premium?
Your plan premium is the amount you pay to your insurance company each month. Insurance companies typically update their premiums annually. The ANOC will notify you if there has been an increase in your monthly premium for the coming year.
The ANOC will also address your new out-of-pocket maximum for the year. This is the maximum amount of money you could potentially spend on health care that isn’t included in your plan, like copayments, etc.
If the total of the new premium and out-of-pocket maximum is more than you’re comfortable with, you might want to reconsider your health care coverage. You can likely find a similar plan at a lower monthly cost, or you can find more comprehensive coverage for a comparable premium.
Are my prescriptions covered?
Additionally, the ANOC will tell you whether your specific medications are still covered or have been removed from your plan’s covered drug list. This list is called a “formulary” and, while it looks intimidating, it details the drugs that are covered in your drug plan.
The ANOC also includes medications that have been added to your plan’s coverage and indicates any changes in copayments or coinsurance rates for the prescriptions they cover.
Did my network change?
Don’t forget to review changes to your plan’s network to ensure your preferred provider or pharmacy is still included. If the pharmacy you use leaves your plan’s network or stops offering preferred cost-sharing, you can typically find a new pharmacy nearby within your plan’s network. If you do not wish to change pharmacies, you may need to change your Medicare plan instead.
Similarly, you’ll want to check that your doctors are still included in your plan’s network. If not, you’ll want to consider changing doctors or changing plans.
Is the plan still available to me?
Not all plans are available in all states. Although insurance companies rarely stop covering large geographic areas, you’ll still want to verify your inclusion (especially if you live in a rural area). If your area is no longer included, you need to find a new plan for the upcoming year.
Do you need to change plans?
Once you understand the key components of the ANOC, you’ll be able to evaluate if your current plan is still right for you. However, there might be other changes in your needs that merit plan comparison for the upcoming year, such as financial changes, health changes or lifestyle changes.
LEARN MORE: How To Know If I Should Change My Medicare Plan?
Sent in September each year, your ANOC will detail any changes to your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D coverage for the upcoming year. These changes include coverage changes, network changes, medication and pharmacy changes, and cost changes. By understanding these changes and comparing them to your current health and financial needs, you can use Medicare’s Fall Open Enrollment Period to compare and evaluate plans.