Medicare Annual Notice of Change: What It Is and Why You Shouldn’t Ignore It

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP, also called the fall Open Enrollment Period) lasts from October 15 to December 7 every year. During this time, Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their coverage and switch, drop or enroll in a new Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan or Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.  

Before AEP rolls around, Medicare beneficiaries should look out for vital information about their Medicare Advantage or Part D coverage as outlined in their Annual Notice of Change

The Annual Notice of Change, or ANOC, is a letter that describes any upcoming changes in your current Medicare plan coverage, costs or networks that will take effect on January 1 of the following year.

This letter can be crucial to deciding which actions you may want to consider (if any) during AEP.

Couple reviews their Medicare mail

Who will receive an Annual Notice of Change?

Anyone enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan will receive an Annual Notice of Change.

Private Medicare plan carriers are required by law to send a notice to all policy holders, even if there are no changes in store for the upcoming year. 

When will your Annual Notice of Change arrive? 

Your Annual Notice of Change should arrive in your mailbox by September 30.

If you don’t see it by then, contact your plan carrier directly to verify that it has been sent out or to request a new one. 

What might be included in the Annual Notice of Change?

Some of the changes that may be noted in your ANOC include:

Coverage

  • New benefits being added
  • Current benefits being removed
  • Changes to the amount of coverage being offered for a service or item

Costs

  • Changes to the plan premiums or in the way they’re paid
  • Changes in deductibles, copayments or coinsurance
  • Changes to the annual out-of-pocket limit

Network

  • New health care providers or pharmacies added to the list of participating providers
  • Current providers who will be leaving the plan network

Drug formularies

  • Medications that have been added to the list of drugs covered by the plan (also called the plan formulary)
  • Drugs on the current formulary that are set to be removed
  • Drugs that have been reassigned to a different tier on the formulary 

Why is the Annual Notice of Change important?

Reviewing your Annual Notice of Change is a critical step in ensuring you’re enrolled in the proper coverage for your needs in the following plan year.

Some important questions to consider may include:

  • Is my favorite doctor and nearest pharmacy still part of my plan network?
  • Is my plan still affordable for my budget?
  • Is my medication still covered by my plan?
  • Have there been any changes to my health that may affect the way that I use my plan going forward?
  • Has there been any changes in coverage to the services or items that I most frequently use?

Even if there are no notable changes being made to your plan, it’s still a good idea to shop around during the run up to AEP as changes to costs and coverage may be taking place for other plans that could now make them more attractive than your current policy.

You can get help shopping for Medicare Advantage plans available near you by calling to speak with a licensed insurance agent. They can help you compare plan costs, benefits and the drugs the plan covers (if it offers prescription drug coverage).

You can also compare plans online for free and – if you’re eligible ­­– apply for a plan online. 

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Or call 1-800-557-6059 (TTY: 711) 24/7 to speak with a licensed insurance agent.