Each year during the second half of September every individual with Medicare gets information related to their Medicare Plans for the coming year (2022). Every year this Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) includes information related to the premiums that you will pay, deductibles that may apply, co-pays for services and general coverage information that is different for the coming year. This ANOC arrives whether you have a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Prescription Drug Plan (PDP).
This ANOC usually has a quick reference guide showing you in an abbreviated way what changes the plan is highlighting. Then the Evidence of Coverage document goes line by line with the coverage included for the coming year.
This year that ANOC has been quite a shock for some people. There is one plan in particular that has been very popular and the premium has increased from $15 a month to more than $51 a month. That higher premium will increase your guaranteed costs by more than $400 in premiums alone. Reviewing the premium alone is certainly not enough of a reason to change your insurance coverage, but it is certainly a good starting point.
The period of October 15 to December 7 is the Annual Open Enrollment Period (OEP) for you to change your insurance for the coming year (2022). During this period of time we can evaluate the different options available to you and either stay with the coverage you have or switch to a different product to give you the coverage you are looking for. The tools we have to evaluate those coverage options are 1-800-MEDICARE, or www.medicare.gov website. Both of these tools are available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week during October 15 to December to be sure, but actually all year long.
Both of these tools allow you to include your medications and your pharmacy as variables that influence you choice. These tools calculate your potential costs for the plan premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. This calculation is certainly one of the factors that you should include in your decision to stay with your current coverage or switch to an alternative plan. This decision to switch could be influenced by cost of coverage (premium), cost of medications (at the pharmacy), and pharmacies you are encouraged to use or allowed to use.
The www.medicare.gov website allows you create a login and password so that the website can be a resource to you all year long allowing you to store your data (medications, pharmacy & providers).
When evaluating your coverage that premium change can be the primary motivation for evaluating your coverage. It is also important to be sure the plan you choose covers the medications you take this year and the pharmacy you want to use. Medications and pharmacies change as the years go by. I can remember in past years we had many pharmacies leave the area and that prompted many people to change their plan. This year we haven’t had pharmacies leave, but we have seen the plans change.
To return to your question, in 2022, the number of plans available, the premiums paid monthly to the plan and the pharmacies that are considered preferred/standard pricing structures are all factors in reviewing your coverage.
You have from 10-15 to 12-7 each year to evaluate your current coverage and the alternative insurance plans available to you. I strongly encourage you to evaluate those options during this time. That significant price difference in the premium alone leads me to believe you could find a more appropriate plan for your current situation. If you do nothing during this Annual Open Enrollment Period (OEP) you will stay in that plan and definitely pay more money in premiums than you did in 2021. When you complete that evaluation you will know if there is an alternative that serves your needs better for 2022 and can switch to that new plan.