Open enrollment (October 15 – December 7) is the time to decide whether you will stick with the Medicare plan you have or change to a new plan. This month, you should receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) from your Medicare Advantage plan/Medicare Part D drug plan. It will list any changes in:
- Plan coverage
- Service area
These changes will go into effect in January 2018, so if there are any changes that aren’t good for you (or for your wallet), make a change during the open enrollment period.
If you make no change, you will continue to be in the same plan. Important things to check are whether your doctors and prescriptions are still under your plan’s coverage, and what your out of pocket costs will be.
The ANOC is different than the EOC, or Evidence of Coverage, that you will also receive. This document goes over all the details of your plan, but not specifically changes for next year. You can examine both documents to decide whether you want to make changes for next year.
If you haven’t received your notice by September 30, contact your plan. To find a new plan or compare costs of plans in your area, use Medicare’s Plan Finder, and contact your local SHIP for extra help.
Some key definitions to get you started
Premium – monthly fee that Medicare recipients pay for Part B insurance. This can go up or down each year.
Formulary – a list of generic and brand name drugs used by doctors to delineate which ones offer the greatest overall value, chosen for cost, effectiveness, and safety. Drugs that are non-formulary will cost much more. Drugs are placed in different Tiers based on how much they will cost. Drugs in lower tiers will cost you less than those in higher tiers.
Out of pocket costs –premiums, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance that you will have to pay.