Your Medicare Annual Notice of Change letter can help you prepare for the changes that your Medicare plan will make for the following year. Here’s what you need to know about it so you don’t toss it out this year!

What is an Annual Notice of Change Letter?

Your Medicare Annual Notice of Change (or ANOC) is a letter from your private Medicare insurance company explaining the changes that will be made to your Medicare plan.

A number of changes to your plan can occur, including changes to the coverage, provider network, drug list, pharmacy network, and cost. Let’s go over some of the changes you could see in each category.

Coverage changes:

  • New benefits could have been added to your plan
  • Changes could be made that affect the services you use
  • If your health has changed, you should be aware if your plan covers the care you need

Provider network changes:

  • Providers could have been added or removed from your plan’s network
  • Your current doctor could have been removed from your network
  • Your preferred hospital or specialists could have been removed from your network

Drug and pharmacy changes:

  • Medications could have been added or removed from your plan’s drug list
  • Your medication could have been assigned to a different tier on your plan’s drug list (which could affect the cost)
  • Your pharmacy could have been removed from your network

Cost changes:

  • The plan premium could go up, down, or stay the same
  • You could see changes to your deductibles, copays, and coinsurance
  • If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, your maximum out-of-pocket limit could change
Who gets Sent it?

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan or a Part D drug plan, you will receive a Medicare Annual Notice of Change letter each year. People with only a Medigap plan don’t receive these letters because Medigap plans do not have benefit changes from year to year.

When is it Sent Out?

You should expect to receive your Medicare Annual Notice of Change letter during the month of September. You should receive the letter no later than September 30th, so you can have 15 days to prepare before the start of the Annual Enrollment Period (or AEP). The AEP begins on October 15 of each year and ends on December 7. Changes to your plan made during this time will go into effect on January 1 of the following year.

It’s important to remember that you will receive one of these letters every single year. If you don’t receive a notice, contact the insurance company that administers your plan to make sure they have the right address on file.

What To Do with Your ANOC

First and foremost: don’t throw it away! In September, be on the lookout for your Medicare Annual Notice of Change in your mail. As soon as you receive your ANOC, you’ll want to review it thoroughly. Make sure you can afford the changes in costs and that you are still within the plan’s service area.

Most importantly, look for medications you take that will be dropped or moved from one tier to another. This is important as it will affect your copay for that medication but is something beneficiaries can easily overlook. You don’t want to be taken by surprise in January when you find out one of your expensive name-brand medications is no longer being offered by your plan. If you find out too late, you may not be able to make changes.

When you review your ANOC letter, go over these questions to help you decide if you should make changes to your plan or not:

  • Does the plan still cover my important medications next year?
  • Are there coverage restrictions for those medications, like prior authorization or quantity limits?
  • How much will I pay for generic and name-brand drugs?
  • Has the monthly premium, copay, and coinsurance changed?
  • Has the Part D drug plan deductible increased?

If your plan is a Medicare Advantage plan, ask yourself these questions as your review your ANOC letter:

  • Are my doctors and hospitals still in the plan’s network next year?
  • How much is the plan’s out-of-pocket maximum? Has it increased from this year?
  • Is there a medical deductible? Is there a drug deductible?
What Do I Do if I Want to Change My Plan?

If you’re not okay with the changes your plan makes, you can switch plans. This is why your carrier sends you the ANOC in September, so you have time to switch plans during the Annual Enrollment Period. If you’d like to change your plan but are not sure how to do it, Jeffery Insurance is here to assist you with the process and help you find the right plan for you.

Our team is here to find what plan best suits your lifestyle and answer all the questions you have. 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!