What is an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC)?
Medicare-related terms can be a bit confusing, and when we start talking in acronyms, it can seem downright impossible. Let’s discuss the ANOC – an important document you’ll want to use wisely as you consider whether you need to change plans.
Medicare Benefits Solutions
Sep 15, 2020
An Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) is a report you’ll receive from your Medicare plan. It’s issued each fall to describe any changes that will be made to your Medicare plan for the coming year. All of the plan changes that are noted in the ANOC will take place on January 1 of the following year. It’s important that you receive this notice and review it carefully.
When is the ANOC sent out?
Medicare requires plans to send this notice by September 30 of each year, which is 15 days prior to the beginning of the Annual Election Period in which you can change your coverage. If you haven’t received your annual notice by September 30, you should contact your Medicare plan directly. The Annual Election Period goes from October 15 through December 7 each year.
Why should you care about the ANOC?
If you’re enrolled in a private Medicare plan, such as a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, your ANOC can show you whether your coverage continues to meet your needs in the upcoming year. Even small changes in a plan’s coverage can make a significant difference in the cost of the plan.
If there are certain aspects of your plan’s care that you rely on heavily, it can be critical that these benefits will still be included in your plan’s coverage. If the coverage has been reduced or eliminated, it could significantly increase your out-of-pocket costs.
One of the most common parts of coverage affected by policy changes is prescription drug coverage. If you take several of medications on a daily basis, even changes in copayments, deductibles, annual maximum limits, and other plan components can add up over the course of the year and significantly increase your healthcare costs. If changes like these occur, it may be in your best interest to search for an alternative plan with more accommodating benefits.
What if no significant changes are made?
Even if you review your plan’s ANOC and realize no significant changes have been made, you still may benefit from comparing your current plan to others that are available. Medicare Advantage and stand-alone Prescription Drug Plans are supplied by private insurers and you can compare your current coverage to other plans available just to make sure you have the one that’s right for you.
There are a wide range of options offered by these companies, and the prices can vary significantly for nearly identical coverage. It may be worthwhile to view similar plans to see if you can get increased healthcare benefits or lower annual costs with an alternative plan.
What if you decide to switch plans?
If you determine that you’d like to switch plans, you can do so during the Annual Election Period (AEP, another acronym, we realize). If you switch plans between October 15 and December 7, your new coverage will be effective on January 1 of the following year.
Is the ANOC the same as the EOC?
Adding to some confusion, EOC stands for Evidence of Coverage. The EOC is often sent out around the same time as the ANOC, but these notices provide different information. The EOC is a comprehensive document that explains specific benefits, expenses, and the inner workings of the plan. The ANOC focuses on the specific changes that were made to the plan in terms of coverage and cost. Both notices can be used together to evaluate your current coverage and compare it to new plans.