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How to Prepare for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

Open enrollment period for Medicare coverage

Your Medicare coverage plan will automatically renew at the start of each year unless you modify it, but you may not receive the same benefits. Insurance agencies review and improve the healthcare services of their Medicare plans annually. Rather than simply renewing your plan, double-check that it still meets your needs. You might have the option to change your health insurance plan during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period or AEP if you want to do so. The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, formerly known as the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, runs from October 15 to December 7.

1) Check Your Medicare Plan for Changes in Coverage and Costs

Your Medicare Advantage coverage (Part C) or Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D) might change the insurance premiums and coverage details annually. The changes take effect on January 1, so you must be aware of them when making decisions during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period. A plan’s changes may include:

  • Adding new benefits.
  • Eliminating previously offered benefits.
  • Updating the list of covered drugs.
  • Reducing or increasing various costs. 

2) Examine Your Annual Notice of Change

You will receive your plan’s ANOC (Annual Notice of Change) in the mail if your insurance company makes any changes in the premium cost or health coverage for the upcoming year. When reviewing your ANOC, keep the following things in mind:

  • Check to learn if the prices or locations of the services or drugs you use will change in the coming year. Are the pharmacies and providers in the plan’s network easily accessible?
  • Examine your medical care requirements over the last year. Has your health status changed this year, necessitating a new specialist or a new set of services? Is your health plan still satisfying your needs? 

ANOC notification letters are typically sent to Medicare beneficiaries in September. Take your time when reading it, and contact your health plan insurer if you don’t receive it.

3) Examine the Medicare and You Handbook

Medicare and You is the official government guide that explains Medicare costs, coverage, enrollment, and other topics. It is updated annually, and you can get a copy from your insurance company website. 

The handbook highlights new Medicare information as well as any significant changes in Marketplace for the coming year. Changes in Medicare policies or rules may impact your coverage plan, premiums, or other aspects of your medical care, so it’s critical to stay informed.

4) Consider Your Healthcare Requirements

Your healthcare needs, as well as your Medicare plan, can change from year to year. You may require new or different medical care benefits in the year ahead. 

Of course, you can’t predict the future, but it’s critical to account for known or possible healthcare needs. Consider the following when selecting an AEP plan:

  • A new health concern or a new diagnosis
  • Planned surgeries or procedures
  • New medications are prescribed or recommended by your doctor.
  • A new provider or doctor you need or want to see
  • Plans for travel and the need for medical attention while away from home.
  • Financial changes that may have an impact on your healthcare budget

5) Assess Your Coverage Needs

Once you have reviewed the ANOC letter and the previous year’s needs, you can evaluate your coverage options. Below are a few things to think about if you decide to switch or renew Part D or Medicare Advantage plans:

  • Is it possible to find the providers and services you require? This includes preferred specialists/doctors, treatments, and additional care benefits. When comparing health plans, make sure you understand the benefits’ limitations.
  • Will the program you are considering cover all medications you think you’ll need in 2022? Inquire about any restrictions, such as quantity limits or whether your medications require prior approval from the health insurer.
  • What will your out-of-pocket expenses be if you visit a doctor, require a medical center stay, or get the prescriptions at the pharmacy? The majority of programs have an annual out-of-pocket maximum, but prescription costs are not included.

6) Preview 2022 Medicare Plan with Prescription Drug Coverage

We make it simple to compare insurance options and shop for health coverage. For personalized search, create or log in to an account or access a directory of your medications, compare your current Medicare coverage to others, and see premiums based on any drug cost assistance you receive. Visit NewMedicare.com and get started!

7) Shopping Around for Best Medicare Plan

If you don’t believe your current plan meets your needs, it’s a good idea to look for one that does. You should shop around to check if you can find a plan with better benefits or lower costs, even if you think your current coverage will continue to meet your needs. On October 1, insurance companies release new Medicare plan details, and they compete for your business, so don’t be afraid to search your options every year. 

8) Seek trusted advice

There are numerous factors to consider when selecting a Medicare plan, but the best part is that you don’t need to do the entire process alone.

  • You can search your state’s agency educational tool designed to help people with Medicare (and those planning for Medicare) make informed and confident decisions about their health coverage and make the most of it.
  • You can contact our licensed agents by calling 844-844-3049 or visiting NewMedicare.com for assistance in understanding your Medicare plan options and how to save money on costs.
  • People with Medicare coverage can also use the Medicare Plan Finder tool accessible on your state agency website to compare 2022 coverage options and shop for suitable plans.

Watch for any Fraud and Marketing Misconduct

Also, keep an eye out for fraud and marketing misbehavior during this time of year. Remember these simple dos and don’ts. 

MA plans, as well as their agents and brokers:

  • CAN’T misinterpret themselves to the beneficiary
  • CANNOT provide “free” services or items worth more than $15 or $75 per year.
  • CAN’T conduct advertising at educational settings (as of this year, however, they can go right into a marketing event after completing an educational event)
  • CANNOT provide meals at sales/marketing events
  • CAN’T make requests “door to door” (it includes putting pamphlets on doors)
  • CANNOT “campouts” in the medical provider offices
  • CAN’T approach beneficiaries in public places (parking lots, streets, sidewalks, lobbies, hallways, etc.)
  • CANNOT send unsolicited text messages or make unsolicited phone calls

Note:

If you suspect any fraud, please report it to your local health government agencies.

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