Medicare beneficiaries, are your mailboxes and recycling bins ready? Yes, pretty soon literature from the various insurance companies will start the annual flow of information to you.
ctober 1st is the first day that the insurance companies and their representatives can begin telling you about what their Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug plans will be offering for 2016. October 15 through December 7th is the timeframe that you have to enroll in one of these plans, or change the plan that you currently have.
First off, if you’re on a Medicare Supplemental plan (sometimes called Medigap), such as Plan F or Plan N, you can relax. These plans don’t change their benefits annually like Medicare Advantage and Medicare RX plans do. However, if you’re on one of these plans and you’d like to see what Medicare Advantage plans have to offer; learn about plans that have a zero premium and include RX coverage too, then this is your time to do research. If you do end up wanting to enroll in a Medicare Advantage with Prescription drug plan, you don’t need to worry about health conditions because enrollment is not subject to underwriting and guaranteed issue (unless you have end stage renal disease).
For those of you already on a Medicare Advantage plan, you need to be aware of a few important things. Keep an eye out for your, “Annual Notice of Change” otherwise known as “ANOC”. This will come from your current insurance carrier late September and it will show line by line any benefits from 2015 in comparison to 2016 that are changing.
The other really important information reported in your Annual Notice of Change is any drug plan changes. Sometimes carriers drop certain drugs from their formulary and if that drug is one you take, you need to know about that!! If this happens to you, it makes sense to shop for a new plan. Another change that happens with RX coverage is changes in drug tiers. Most Rx plans have tier 1 and tier 2 that are generic drug tiers, tier 1 is less expensive than 2. Sometimes the news is good in your ANOC and your tier 2 drugs are now tier 1. If the change is in reverse, your tier 1 drugs are now tier 2 and if you take a lot of generic medication, those small increases can add up. More financially substantial are the name brand tiers, generally tier 3, 4 and 5 (usually getting more expensive the higher the tier number). If your tier 3 drug becomes a tier 4 drug, this is a change could cost you double digits.
Bottom line: READ YOUR ANNUAL NOTICE OF CHANGE. If you don’t like how the changes in your plan affect you, then please contact me to schedule a personalized, no fee consultation in my office or at your home. I’m already booking appointments starting October 1st.