It’s that time of year again! The 2020 Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) will run from October 15, 2019, to December 7, 2019. During (AEP) you can make changes to various aspects of your coverage. For those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or Part D Plan, you should receive your “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC) shortly (if you haven’t already). This notice gives a summary of any changes in the plan’s cost and coverage that will take effect on January 1, 2020. (If you do not receive an ANOC from your plan by September 30, you should contact your plan.)
Remember: AEP is the only time each year (unless you qualify for a Special Election Period) that beneficiaries can make changes to their plan. These changes will be effective on January 1, 2020.
Here’s what you should be looking for when that Annual Notice of Change letter arrives.
Premium changes: This is perhaps the most common change, and the premium may go up or down in price. If the change in premium is outside your budget, or you simply aren’t happy with the change, right now is the time to weigh alternative plans with an insurance agent.
Coverage: A coverage change could include no longer covering a prescription or service you use regularly, so if you don’t find a new plan that will meet your medical needs, you could be facing larger out-of-pocket expenses than you’re used to. It’s better to plan for this now than to be stuck with expenses you weren’t prepared for when it comes to services you regularly need.
Deductibles: This can be a substantial change and particularly applies to prescription drug plans as they have had several increases in the last few years. If that’s the case, you may consider switching to a lower deductible plan which typically has higher premiums, but they may cover a greater percentage of your medical expenses. An experienced agent can help you understand the pros and cons of various plans and help you weigh the options so you can make an informed choice.
Co-payments & Coinsurance: Although this has not been a problem overall the last several years, knowing how a sudden hospital stay might affect your financial picture is a crucial part of health planning. This may also be a good time to look at other products like short term care. For a relatively small amount of additional premium, there could be a large return on your investment should the need arise.
PDP Formulas and Tiers: If you find that your prescription drug coverage will be changing, call your plan to check the coverage status for the specific dosage of prescriptions you take (or use this document from Medicare.gov). You may be able to save money by switching to a generic while other plans may require trying the generic brand of your prescription before they will cover the brand-name version. If considering switching plans, take your pill bottles with you when you visit your agent to be certain you both know if or how a change may impact your cost for your prescriptions.
Withdrawal of Plan: Unfortunately, it’s possible your plan may not be there next year. Plans sometimes withdraw from certain service areas or don’t renew their contracts with Medicare. Some occasionally go out of business or are terminated by Medicare. Not to fret, a licensed agent can help you compare comparable plans in your area.
If you are confused about anything sent in your Annual Notice of Change or you need help understanding how to find the right plan for you, please contact us today. We can help you compare the plans in your area.