Preparing for Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage

There are many things you get to enjoy in retirement, like your evening walk and watching the leaves on the trees changing color. Getting a mailbox full of packets and postcards is likely not one of them.

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for 2021 Medicare Advantage plans is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. This is the time when you can sign up for certain types of plans, switch plans or leave a plan for insurance starting Jan. 1, 2021. No doubt you’ll begin seeing lots of advertising from insurance carriers who want your business. It’s important to understand what it all means so you can make the best decision for YOU!

Let’s start by making a checklist to help you navigate AEP.

Now, let’s dig a little deeper into each of these action items.

Watch for your Medicare Advantage Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and review it

By Sept. 30, you can expect to receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) for the Medicare Advantage plan you are currently enrolled in. It provides details on any changes your plan will be making for the coming year that may affect your coverage, costs or service area. It also tells you what your premium will be for the coming year. It is important to take time to read and understand your ANOC so you can make decisions regarding your plan.

Make a list of your care team, prescriptions and benefits you want

Over time your needs can change and you may need a different doctor to care for you. The same can apply to prescriptions your care team prescribes to you. Medicare Advantage plans can change their doctor and hospital networks as well as the prescription drugs and copays each year. Check to see if your needs still align with your plan. If you want vision, hearing, dental, over-the-counter allowances or gym memberships as a benefit, see if your plan offers these for the coming year.

If you want to keep your plan, there’s no need to do anything

Read your packet from your current carrier to be sure, but typically your coverage will continue uninterrupted and you do not have to do anything.

It’s time to shop!

If your plan doesn’t cover your needs or you simply want to make sure you’re getting the best deal, you’ll want to shop around. Start with Medicare’s official Medicare Plan Finder at Medicare.gov. Talk to friends about their plans. Call a Medicare advisor at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas at 866-808-6838 (TTY 711) for personalized step-by-step assistance right here in Kansas.

Reasons for considering changing MA plans for the next year

Here are some reasons you may want to shop for a new plan:

  • Your plan changed and it no longer fits your needs
  • Your monthly premium is going up
  • One of your doctors is no longer in the network
  • Your plan is no longer covering your prescription drugs
  • You want more benefits than your current plan offers

What you can switch, change or drop for Medicare Advantage

During AEP, you can:

  • Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage

Know the deadline

If you are changing your Medicare Advantage plan, be sure you take action by Dec. 7. You will be automatically disenrolled from your current plan when your new plan enrollment becomes effective on Jan. 1.

Talk to a Kansan today

At Blue Cross, we understand you may feel lost in this process. That’s why we have Medicare advisors in offices all over Kansas. We’re right here with you every day helping answer questions, processing your claims and making sure you take advantage of everything you’ve signed up for. Call us today at 866-808-6838 (TTY 711).

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