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September 1, 2021
How to Make Sense of the Annual Notice of Changes (ANOC)

How to Make Sense of the Annual Notice of Changes (ANOC)

With school buses coming out of hibernation and pumpkin spice products appearing on the shelves, fall is coming fast. For those with Medicare, fall is the most important time of year. Sometime during the month of September, your Annual Notice of Changes — more commonly called the ANOC — will arrive.

But what does that mean? And what do you need to do about it? We’re going to walk you through it and tell you everything you need to know about the ANOC. Even if you love your Medicare plan, you need to review your ANOC.

For current Medicare Allies clients: To help remind you that your ANOC is coming, keep an eye out for a letter from us that should be arriving at your house in the first half of September. It’s important to verify that your coverage will meet your needs in the upcoming year.

What is the ANOC?

The Annual Notice of Changes (ANOC) is the official document sent by your Medicare plan provider to outline coverage changes in your plan for the upcoming calendar year. It’s a detailed document that explains every change happening to your specific coverage. If it’s in the ANOC, it applies to you.

Who gets the ANOC?

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan or a Part D drug plan, you will receive the ANOC sometime in the month of September.  

ANOCs are not for Original Medicare plans.  

Like with traditional health insurance, Medicare Advantage plans are provided through insurance companies and coverage may vary from year to year.

Part D plans also send you an ANOC. The Part D ANOC lets members know about price changes and whether there will be changes to their formulary or network pharmacies.

When will I get my ANOC?

ANOCs are sent for receipt by September 30 and are posted onto your plan’s website by October 15. This is to give you time to review your coverage and figure out if you want to switch plans before the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).

AEP lasts from October 15th to December 7th every year and is (depending on circumstances) the only time of year you can switch your Medicare plan. All changes will go into effect on January 1st.

Note: Medicare Supplements are not affected by the fall enrollment period!

How will I receive the ANOC?

ANOCs are legally required to be sent via mail unless you have personally opted to receive a digital copy. If you have opted for a digital copy, you will receive an electronic version of the ANOC via the email listed on your Medicare account.

What should I do when I receive my ANOC?

When you receive the ANOC, there are a few important things to do:

  1. Review your benefit and cost changes. Prices may change year to year, and you don’t want to be surprised next time you go to the doctor.  
  2. Check to see if the drugs you’re currently taking have coverage changes. This can be done by checking the drug formulary. See if/where your drugs are listed and what costs apply to the assigned drug tier.  
  3. Check the provider and pharmacy directories. You’ll need to make sure your doctor and pharmacy are still in your plan’s network.  
  4. Decide if your current plan still meets your needs. Just because you loved your plan this year does not mean you’ll love it next year. Don’t get stuck with insufficient coverage.  

I don’t have a Medicare Advantage plan; do I get an ANOC?  

If you have a Part D Drug Plan, you will receive an ANOC for that plan.  

It is still important to review your ANOC coverage changes for your Part D Drug Plan as prescription drug coverage can change year-to-year. If you have any questions about prescription coverage and Part D, please reach out and we’ll help you clear those up and make sure you get the plan that’s right for you.

My plan does not cover everything I need next year. What should I do?

If you find your current plan will not meet your needs next year, then there’s good news. You are not stuck with that plan. Part of the reason insurance providers sent the ANOC is to help you decide if you want to change plans. If you want to change plans, we are here to help! Our experts are ready to help you find the plan that’s best for you and your health needs.  

I don’t understand my ANOC. What should I do?

Insurance documents can be difficult to understand. If you’re having trouble making sense of the ANOC, you don’t have to do it alone. We can help you navigate the ANOC and explain everything you need to know.

What happens if I ignore the ANOC?

You should not ignore the ANOC. The ANOC is how you know what your plan covers in the upcoming year. If you don’t make changes during AEP, you’ll be automatically renewed in your current plan. By ignoring the ANOC, you won’t know if you need to make a change to your plan and finding coverage that fits your needs.

Conclusion

The ANOC can seem daunting, but much like pumpkin spice and going back to school, reviewing your Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug coverage should become part of your autumn routine.  

If you decide to switch your plan or just need assistance with understanding the ANOC, reach out to us and we’ll happily answer any questions you have. We are here to help, and our services are at no cost to you.

Luke Hockaday
By
Luke Hockaday
Luke Hockaday is a Customer Success Rep here at Medicare Allies. Luke has been helping Medicare-eligible clients with their insurance and retirement-planning needs since 2011. Luke is passionate about 3 things, and 3 things only: senior insurance, football, and food!

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