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Do the Medicare Advantage Benefits Change Yearly?

If you’ve heard a few commercials on television and you’re wondering whether or not you need to review your Medicare Advantage plan for changes, you’re not alone. Many seniors don’t realize that Part C benefits may change from year-to-year or that they have the opportunity to review changes before the annual Open Enrollment begins.

Securing the right coverage to fit your needs and budget is important. Here is some information on what to expect and how to navigate annual changes in Medicare Advantage benefits.

What Kinds of Changes Can You Expect?

As a member of Medicare Advantage, each fall, you should receive a Plan Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). This document includes important information about any changes to your plan that will take effect the following January. This is your opportunity to review your plan to decide if it will still meet your needs the following year.

Expect to see changes to your monthly premium, deductibles, prescription drug coverage and cost, provider networks and copayments. Your maximum out-of-pocket limit may be reduced, your drug plan’s formulary or list of covered medications may increase or decrease or your current plan may be merged into another Medicare Advantage plan.

How to Review Changes to Your Medicare Advantage Plan

Changes to your current plan may not affect you or your benefits at all. However, even small changes can have a significant impact on how you receive your benefits, how much you pay out-of-pocket, even where you can go to receive services.

For instance, your plan’s drug formulary may cover fewer medications next year. If you take a specific drug, it’s a good idea to review your notice of change carefully to ensure the medications you rely on are still available. Are they in a different tier? Can you still use the same pharmacy? Look for changes in how much you will need to pay to continue receiving the prescriptions you use regularly.

It’s also important to review changes that may affect where you go to receive services. Is your doctor still in the network? How about the hospital you use?

There’s Plenty of Time to Review Your Plan’s Coverage

The good news is, Medicare plans must send an Annual Notice of Change no later than September 30—a couple of weeks before the start of Open Enrollment. If you don’t receive it, contact your plan. Details on how to request the notice can be found on the back of your membership card. If you decide to keep your Medicare Advantage plan, you don’t need to do anything at all and you will automatically be re-enrolled in your current plan for another year.

 

References:

Annual Notice of Change: https://www.medicare.gov/forms-help-and-resources/mail-about-medicare/plan-annual-notice-of-change.html

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