The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is coming up and it can be one of the most confusing times of year for Medicare beneficiaries. If you have questions about this period, read on to get answers!

What is the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is a yearly period where Medicare beneficiaries can evaluate their current coverage and make changes. It is an 8-week period that takes place every fall, starting October 15 and ending December 7.

This period exists because Part D plans and Medicare Advantage plans get to re-file their benefits with Medicare each year. This means benefits and premiums are subject to change. So, Medicare lets you have a period each year to change your plan if you don’t like the changes they’re making.

How Do I Know if I Need to Make Changes to My Plan?

Your Part D Insurance plan or Medicare Advantage provider will send you a document in September called the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). This will list the plan’s changes side-by-side from the current year to next year. Changes can include the cost, drug list, pharmacy network, provider network, and coverage. When you receive your ANOC, be sure to sit down and review it so you know what changes are being made to your plan.

If you don’t have a Part D plan or Medicare Advantage, you won’t receive a letter. If you have a Part D plan or Medicare Advantage plan and haven’t received your ANOC by September 30, contact the insurance company that administers your plan to make sure they have the correct address on file.

What Changes Can I Make?

During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, you can make quite a few changes to your plan if you’re not happy with how your coverage will change. Here are a few changes you can make:

  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare
  • Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
  • Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
  • Enroll in a Medicare Part D plan
  • Change from one Medicare Part D plan to another
  • Disenroll from a Medicare Part D plan

When it comes to Medicare Advantage plans, keep in mind they ask one health question about End Stage Renal Disease. As long as you don’t suffer from this particular health condition, enrolling or changing your Medicare Advantage plan is fairly easy.

Any Changes you make during the Annual Enrollment Period timeframe will go into effect on January 1.

What if I Don’t Want to Make Changes?

No worries – you don’t have to make any changes to your plan if you don’t want to. If you’re happy with your coverage still, feel free to do nothing. The changes Medicare makes to your plan will take effect on January 1.

However, since Medicare plans tend to change, it’s beneficial to compare your options annually to ensure you’re receiving the benefits you deserve at the price that works with your budget.

What if I Miss Annual Enrollment?

If you miss the December deadline, there aren’t too many options to help you out. However, that doesn’t mean there are no options. If you happen to miss the deadline, there are a couple of options for you to see if you can change your plan: a Special Enrollment Period or the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.

Under special circumstances, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan or Prescription Drug Plan outside the Annual Enrollment Period known as a Special Enrollment Period. Some of these circumstances include:

  • Moving to a new location that is outside your plan’s coverage area
  • Changing coverage from an employer/union
  • Losing your current health insurance coverage

If you meet one of these criteria, you may be eligible to enroll in a plan without penalty.

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is between January 1 and March 31. During this time, you have the opportunity to change your Medicare Advantage plan to a different plan from a different carrier. This is a one-time change opportunity to help those that may have chosen a plan that isn’t the right fit.

Is Auto-Renewal Available?

If you don’t want to change anything to your plan and it will still be available next year, you can “auto-renew” by doing nothing and letting the changes take place on January 1 (as we mentioned above). Still, check your plan each year before letting it auto-renew so you’re sure you’re happy with the changes that will be made.

Let us Help You Change Your Plan

If you’ve reviewed your ANOC and want to change your plan, Jeffery Insurance is here to lend a hand. Our team will help you evaluate your options and help find you a plan that fits your budget and lifestyle. We are based in Scottsdale but are happy to assist you no matter where you are in Arizona. We are Arizona’s health care resource!