Medicare Annual Enrollment Period
The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for those with Medicare Advantage (MA plans) and Prescription Drug Plans (Part D) begins in less than two months. The AEP, or annual “open enrollment” runs between October 15th and December 7th. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, watch for your Annual Notice of Change to arrive in your mailbox in around Sept. 15 to Sept. 30.
The Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) is a document that lists any changes in your Medicare Advantage plan's benefits or cost sharing. All Medicare Advantage Plans are required to mail this document to you by September 30th. If you haven’t received your Annual Notice of Change by September 30, you can call the Members Services phone number on the back of your insurance card.
Your Annual Notice of Change will help you decide whether your current plan still meets your health and prescription drug needs. You should review the Annual Notice of Change especially carefully if you take prescription drugs to make sure all your medications are still included in the drug formulary. If a drug you take is no longer covered, you may want to consider switching to a different Medicare Advantage Plan to avoid paying the full retail price for a prescription that isn't covered by your plan.
What To Do You Do If You're Happy With Your Medicare Advantage Plan
Nothing! Most years you’ll find that your Medicare Advantage plans aren't making any significant changes in benefits or cost sharing. If you’re happy with your plan, you don’t have do anything during the Annual Enrollment Period except ignore all the commercials and throw out the mail from other insurance companies trying to get your business. You will remain enrolled in your plan for the 2021 calendar year.
What To Do If You Want to Look at Other MA Plans
Talk to an Independent Medicare agent if the Joe Namath commercials have you curious as to whether you’re “getting all the benefits you deserve”. An Independent agent, I represent will be familiar with most, if not all, of the plans in area. This would include United Healthcare, Humana, Anthem, Aetna, IU Health Plans, Mutual of Omaha and Well Care. A captive agent, however, is employed by an insurance company and can only represent that companies plans. You can switch your Medicare Advantage plans during the Annual Election Period, which takes place from October 15 to December 7 every year.Outside of the Annual Election Period, you may have limited opportunities to make changes to your coverage unless you qualify for a Special Election Period.
No Annual Open Enrollment for Medicare Supplement Policyholders
If you chose to receive your healthcare benefits through Original Medicare Parts A and B and a Medicare Supplement plan, then the Annual Election Period only applies to your Part D (prescription drug plan). Your Medicare Supplement plan changes only by congressional legislation. Your Medicare Supplement premiums will usually increase with every birthday you have, but the plan coverage will not. For instance, a Medigap Plan G will always cover all your healthcare cost except the Medicare Part B deductible from year to year.
Medicare Supplements, or Medigap plans have a year around enrollment period. This means that you can change your Supplement Plan at any time during the year should you become unhappy with your premium or carrier’s service. Though this seldom happens, you should know you can “shop” your supplement plans rate the way you might shop your auto insurance rates every 3 years or so. Medicare makes it easy to shop Medigap rates because a United Healthcare Plan G will have the same benefits of a Humana or Mutual of Omaha Plan G.
If you decide you want to switch your Medicare Supplement Plan, know that you will be subject to health underwriting. This means your application with the new carrier will have a series of questions regarding health conditions and the prescriptions you’re taking. This information will determine whether the insurance company will accept or decline you.