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If you’re 65, there is one piece of mail you shouldn’t ignore this month

September 21, 2023

(BPT) - Are you or someone you love on Medicare? As the annual Medicare Annual Enrollment Period approaches (it starts on October 15 and runs through December 7), no doubt your mailbox will be flooded with letters, flyers and postcards from insurance companies and brokers pushing many Medicare options. But the one piece of mail you need to pay attention to is your current Medicare plan’s Annual Notice of Change, commonly referred to as ANOC.

All Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D Prescription plans are required to send out this important letter before the end of September. They must tell you if your current plan is changing in any way, because if there are changes that you don't like, you have the right to change your plan during the Annual Enrollment Period. And yes, Medicare plans can change from year to year — and sometimes not for the better. What if your prescription drugs are no longer covered? Your doctor leaves the network? Your premium suddenly increases? Your co-payments jump? Protect your health and your wallet ... read that ANOC letter!

Each insurance company has their own version of the ANOC letter, which may be up to 20 pages long, so grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable! Here are 6 things to look out for when reviewing your ANOC.

  1. Change in plan premium. It’s likely that a plan’s premium may change from year to year. How much is dependent on what the individual carrier changes, but you could even see a plan with a $0 monthly premium change to having an actual dollar amount for you to pay.
  2. Changes in co-pays. Check to make sure your doctor co-pays, including primary and specialists in and out of network, have not changed.
  3. Network changes. This will show you if your doctors and pharmacies are no longer in your plan’s network or are no longer a preferred provider.
  4. Drug list changes. It’s so important that you look at this list, also called the drug formulary. Prescriptions fall in and out of coverage or change price levels, so please review to see if your drugs are still covered and if there are any new restrictions.
  5. Out-of-pocket maximum. This is the amount of money you will pay out-of-pocket for all Medicare-covered expenses. Make sure to review this section to see if your out-of-pocket limit has changed.
  6. Additional benefits in Medicare Advantage plans. For those with a Medicare Advantage plan, you may have coverage for additional benefits like dental, vision, hearing, telehealth and more.

Caution! If you ignore the ANOC letter and you do nothing during the Annual Enrollment Period, your current plan will renew for 2024 — and you won’t be able to make any changes until October 2024.

But if you review your plan’s annual notice and decide that your current plan may not be right for you in the coming year, it’s time to consider changing your plan for 2024. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “The average Medicare beneficiary in 2023 has access to 43 Medicare Advantage plans, the largest number of options ever.” That means there are more plans for you to choose from this year (great news!).

Confused? Overwhelmed? Free help is just a phone call away. ClearMatch™ Medicare is dedicated to making Medicare easier to understand so you can choose the plan that’s right for you. Their highly trained licensed agents are patient and helpful, and if they find you are already in a great plan, they’ll tell you so. If you’d like help, call 1-888-441-7030 (TTY:711) for a free, no-obligation Medicare review, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (ET) or visit ClearMatchMedicare.com, open 24-7.

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