A blog about Medicare. What you and your employees need to know
Compare- ANOC: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Author: Lora Drummond
Medicare Transition Specialist
42- 52 Solution Series – Compare- ANOC: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Autumn is the time when folks on Medicare look in their mailboxes for important communication about their Medicare Advantage and Part D Prescription Drug plans for next year. Their insurance company will send a document notifying them of any changes to their plan for the coming year. The letter is called an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC).
The Good, The Bad…
The ANOC can provide good news and sometimes bad news. So it’s essential to carefully review the document’s contents when it’s received to avoid surprises come January 1. The ANOC can alert folks to:
- Medicare Plan name changes
- Potential increases/decreases in premiums, deductibles, maximum out-of-pocket, copays, and costs for services
- Benefit additions to your plan, like dental, vision, wellness
- Benefits being removed from your plan
- Changes to network providers/doctors
- Any changes to coverage in and out of network
- Prescription changes like costs, coverage, and pharmacies
- Or even the termination of a plan
The timing of the ANOC notification is so folks on Medicare Advantage or Part D Prescription Plans can switch plans during Medicare’s Annual Election Period (AEP) from Oct. 15 – Dec. 7; if the plan they are on is making changes, that could impact them.
When reviewing the ANOC, there will be some research folks will need to do. For example, they likely will need to compare their costs and coverage this year and next year by going to the plan’s website to find answers about their plan for next year. (Drug lists/provider directory, etc.)
- Review the costs of their medications on the plan next year.
- Review the plan premiums for next year.
- Can they still use the same pharmacy?
- Is their doctor/specialist/hospital still going to be in the plan’s network?
- Did their healthcare needs change over the past year, impacting costs/services?
- What are their total expected healthcare costs?
- Will their plan benefits cover needs next year, or do they need more?
If any of the changes might impact them negatively, they might need to change to another plan. But fear not! There are LOTS of plan options. And they have the AEP to make those changes.
More Research You Say?
Digging through all those plans to pick a new one is going to take more research. However, folks can go to the Medicare.gov website to enter the information they ask for on each page and search through the offerings there. To find a new plan, folks will need to look for their medications, doctors, hospitals, and pharmacy preferences— like starting over.
Their insurance company might even call, or folks might call them to change to one of their other plans. That might seem like an easy solution. BUT, proceed with caution! It’s important to put individual needs first. The insurance company just wants to keep the business. Folks deserve a plan that meets their specific needs. Insurance company representatives are not going to research other company plans – only sell what they have.
Suppose folks want to avoid all the complex research and comparison processes to make sure they switch to the most appropriate solution for coverage next year. In that case, we advise finding a Certified Medicare PlannerⓇ who already has a defined process for helping folks compare. As a Medicare fiduciary, they help folks navigate without any insurance company bias through all the plans in a given area. They put the individual first. They can compare current plans, focus on needs, and show all the options available without folks having to research on their own and eliminating a whole lot of stress.
Want to help someone continue their Medicare journey stress-free? Refer them to a Certified Medicare PlannerⓇ for expert guidance when they get their ANOC. So they can make sure their plan meets their needs in cost and coverage for 2022.
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