The 2023 Annual Enrollment Period is here! If you’re a seasoned Medicare beneficiary, you probably know the importance of this enrollment period. But if you’re new to Medicare or need a refresher course on what the Annual Enrollment Period is, this post is for you!
The Annual Enrollment Period also called the Annual Election Period or AEP, is a time when you can review your current Medicare plans, evaluate your coverage needs, and make adjustments as necessary. The 2023 AEP begins on October 15 and ends on December 7.
Why Is AEP Important?
AEP is especially important for anyone who is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (Part C) or Medicare prescription drug (Part D) plan. It’s also important for anyone who wants to enroll in one of those two plans for the first time. You can make the following changes during AEP.
- Enroll in a new Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan
- Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or vice versa
- Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another or from one Part D plan to another
Medicare Advantage and Part D plans run on annual contracts. Each year, they set their benefits, premiums, and cost-sharing amounts. They can re-evaluate those things annually, which means that most plans change every year.
For example, let’s say you’re enrolled in a Part D plan. Right now, that plan covers all your prescriptions. But next year, it could change its drug formulary and leave out some of your medications. If you stayed on that plan, you’d end up paying out-of-pocket for the non-covered drugs.
Beneficiaries who are enrolled in Medicare Advantage or Part D should review the plan changes for the upcoming year to determine if those changes positively or negatively impact their coverage.
Tips for a Smooth Annual Enrollment Period in 2023
Making changes to your Medicare plans doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. By taking a little time to review your plans and scheduling an appointment with your Medicare advisor, the process will be seamless. To make sure you’re prepared, we’ve got a few tips for getting through the 2023 Annual Enrollment Period.
1. Review Your Annual Notice of Change
Your Medicare Advantage or Part D insurance carrier is required to send an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) no later than September 30. This document outlines the changes they plan to implement in the upcoming year. Take time to review your ANOC and decide if you like the changes.
2. Make a List of Your Prescriptions
Whether you’re on a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription coverage or on a separate Part D plan, you need to review the plan’s drug formulary. In our example earlier, we showed you the list of covered medications can change. Plus, you might have had a change in prescriptions since you last enrolled in the plan. Compare your current medications with the drug formulary, and find out how much your copays will be.
3. Make a List of Your Providers
Most Medicare Advantage plans use provider networks, especially if you have a PPO (Preferred Provider Organization), HMO (Health Maintenance Organization), or SNP (Special Needs Plan). Like everything else, the networks can change. Make sure your providers will still be contracted next year. If they aren’t, you’ll have to decide if you’d rather change plans or providers.
4. Research Star Ratings
Star ratings are often overlooked, but they’re an easy way to tell how good a Part C or Part D plan is. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rates plans on a star scale of one to five, with five stars having an “excellent” rating. You may not have a 5-star plan in your area, but you should look for plans with at least three stars or more.
5. Schedule an Appointment with Carolina Senior Benefits
Even if you’ve followed all these tips, it’s always best to schedule an appointment with your local Medicare advisor. It’s a great way to double-check your decision and maybe even learn a few things about your plan (or others on the market) that you didn’t know before. Plus, your advisor will take care of all the enrollment forms on your behalf, so you won’t need to worry about missing deadlines or lost mail.