Why You Shouldn’t Toss Your Annual Notice of Change Letter
If you’re in a Medicare Advantage plan or a Part D prescription drug plan, be sure to sort through your mail pile and email inbox. In September, your insurance company should send you an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) letter.
It may seem like another boring piece of mail, but it’s more important than you might think, which is why you need to read it carefully. Analyzing your ANOC letter may help you save money and safeguard the care elements that are most important to you in a plan.
What Is an ANOC?
The ANOC is a letter from your private Medicare insurance company explaining the changes that will be made to your Medicare plan or Part D plan in the following year, says Jo Murphy, executive director of the Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) in Lansing, Michigan.
A number of changes can occur, and they can affect any of the following: your monthly premium, annual deductibles, out-of-pocket maximum, copays for medical services or medications, the network of doctors or pharmacies, and the drug formulary (the list of generic and brand-name drugs that your plan covers). If there are changes made to any of these, you’ll need to evaluate what you should do in response.
For instance, your drug plan may no longer cover one or more of the medications you’re taking. If that’s the case, you could enroll in a new Part D drug plan that does provide coverage. Or you might learn that your doctor and pharmacy are no longer in the network. That means you’ll need to look for a plan with doctors in your network or commit to finding new providers who are in network.
Your plan’s out-of-pocket maximum may even change, and if it’s not something you can afford, you can search for a plan with a lower limit.
You should also consider your own health. Do you require a different level of care now than you did earlier in the year? If so, it’s time to make sure your current plan meets your future needs.
The upshot? “By evaluating these changes and shopping around, you could potentially save thousands of dollars,” says Murphy.
A good starting point: Speak with one of our licensed insurance agents who can help you understand all your options. Call (800) 827-9990.
If you don’t remember getting your ANOC—or can’t find it—call your plan carrier. (Medicare Supplement plans, or Medigap plans, will not send an ANOC, since they don’t make annual changes.)
What to Do After Reading Your ANOC
If you determine that you want to make changes, your next step will be to choose a different plan during the Annual Enrollment Period, which runs from October 15 through December 7. Any changes in your plan will then become effective January 1.
You can compare quotes online to find one that fits your needs and budget.
No changes needed on your part? Then January 1 will simply mark the start of the new year for your existing plan, which will automatically renew.
Once you’ve read through and evaluated the ANOC letter, you should hang on to it in case you have questions about changes in coverage from the prior year’s plan. Fortunately, many plans are sending these electronically or storing them on your plan’s website to make them easier to save, says Patricia C. MacKinnon, MMAP’s assistant director.
Of course, it can be confusing to wade through all of this on your own, especially if you want to make changes. If you need help navigating all the choices, our team of licensed insurance agents can help you evaluate your options and narrow down your choices. They can even help you enroll in a new plan, if you decide that’s what’s needed.