Medicare's Annual Enrollment Period, sometimes called Annual Election Period, runs from October 15th through December7th. During this period, anyone with Medicare can compare and find the best Medicare Advantage plan or prescription drug plan for the upcoming calendar year.
Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans can and often do make changes annually to the benefits, coverages, and monthly premiums, along with changes to the plan's network of providers, pharmacies, and drug formularies. Therefore, it is imperative to review your Annual Notice of Change(ANOC), or Evidence of Coverage (EOC), that your current provider sends out every year. The ANOC or EOC typically appears in the mail during the first week of October every year, or if you signed up for electronic or online communication, it will appear in your inbox during the same time frame.
The changes allowed during AEP include:
- Change to a different Medicare Advantage plan
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan back to original Medicare
- Switch from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
- Change, join, or drop your prescription drug plan
Any benefit and plan changes made during AEP will go into effect on January 1st of the following calendar year.
It is imperative to understand that after reviewing your ANOC or EOC if the current plan that you are on will continue to meet your needs for the upcoming calendar year, nothing needs to be done. It will automatically roll over to the following calendar year. Some people are misguided or misled to believe that you must talk with someone every year for a benefit review, and that is just not the case.
During your ANOC or EOC review, medications being removed from the formulary are the most significant changes to look for. Make sure any medication listed as being removed from the plan's formulary is not a current medication you are taking. Next will be network provider changes; make sure you are not affected by any of the network provider changes listed. These are the two most significant changes to look out for. If these two things do not impact you after reviewing your ANOC or EOC, you will likely be on the most appropriate plan for the next year, and nothing needs to be changed for the upcoming year.