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How to Read Your Medicare Plan's 2023 Annual Notice of Change

This article is for you if you have a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. (The Part D plan may be stand-alone or part of a Medicare Advantage plan.)


When October rolls around each year, you start seeing Medicare advertisements everywhere: on the television, on the internet and in your mailbox. You are being invited to look at new plans for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.


This yearly campaign marks the beginning of the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, which runs from October 15 to December 7. But before paying attention to any of the ads, your first step should be to find the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) that your existing Medicare provider sent before September 30 – and read it.


If you have not received the ANOC, contact your plan provider immediately, as you'll need it to make an informed decision about your healthcare coverage for the upcoming year.

The ANOC is important because Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plan providers have the right to change the details of their plans each year. But the provider is also obligated to notify you clearly of any changes to your Medicare plan's networks, premiums, costs, coverage, benefits and drug lists (formulary), comparing 2022 and 2023.

How to read your Medicare Plan's Annual Notice of Change

Whether you are researching the changes to your Medicare Advantage plan or your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, these are the questions you want to ask.


Changes to your provider networks:

  • Have any essential providers been added or deleted from your plan's network?

  • Are your current doctors still in the network?

  • Are your preferred hospitals, labs, specialists or other providers in the network?

  • Once you've answered those questions, can you accept those changes, or should you look for another plan?


Changes to your plan's costs:

  • How is your plan's premium changing: going up? Down? Staying the same?

  • Are there changes to your deductible, coinsurance rates or copays?

  • With a Medicare Advantage plan, has your maximum out-of-pocket limit changed?

  • Once you've answered those questions, can you accept those changes, or should you look for another plan?

Changes in coverage:

  • Have any benefits been added or deleted from your plan?

  • Are there benefits being offered elsewhere that you hoped you'd find in your plan?

  • Have there been changes to the maximums or your cost for your existing benefits?

  • Have your health needs changed since last year, and will your plan's 2023 coverage meet your needs?

  • Once you've answered those questions, can you accept those changes, or should you look for another plan?


Changes to your drug formulary or pharmacy network:

  • Have any of your covered medications been deleted from your plan?

  • Have your covered medications' costs changed, possibly by being assigned a different tier?

  • Are you expecting to take any new medications, and if so, are they listed on your plan's formulary?

  • Is your preferred pharmacy still in your plan's network, and does it offer the best pricing?

  • Once you've answered these questions, can you accept those changes, or should you look for another plan?


Steps to take after reviewing your Annual Notice of Change

If you decide your revised plan no longer meets your needs medically or financially, you can check out other available plans at the Medicare.gov website and make the switch by December 7. (See our "A Checklist for Navigating the 2022 Open Enrollment Period.”) Your new plan will take effect on January 1.


If you enroll in a different plan, you will be disenrolled from your existing one. And if you decide to drop a Medicare Advantage plan and switch to Original Medicare, you can call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).


But if you decide the revised plan for 2023 works for you, do nothing, and your plan will renew automatically.

 

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