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2022 Medicare Annual Enrollment Period

The 2022 Fall Medicare Annual Enrollment (also known as the Fall Open Enrollment period or Annual Election period) is from October 15 – December 7 every year. If you are new to Medicare, now is the time to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan and Medicare Part D Drug Plan. Furthermore, if you are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or a Part D Drug Plan, you have the opportunity to review your current coverage and make any necessary changes that need to be made for the following year during this time. 

We understand this time can be stressful; we recommend taking baby steps beforehand to help prepare for the AEP. We promise it will make your life a lot easier when October 15th rolls around! In this article, we’ll provide you with some helpful tips to make your AEP period go as seamless as possible.

What Is The Annual Enrollment Period?

Simply put, the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) occurs every year from October 15 – December 7. During this time, anyone that currently has Medicare can make changes to their Medicare Advantage and Part D Prescription Drug Plans to better fit their needs. This includes anything from costs, coverage, companies, what pharmacies & providers are in which network, etc. Additionally, anyone turning 65 and interested in a Medicare Advantage plan and/or Part D Drug plan, this is the time during the whole year to sign-up. The Annual Election Period has nothing to do with Medicare Supplement Plans. So if you have a Medigap plan, you don’t need to do anything in the fall. You can make changes to your Medigap plan anytime throughout the year. 

If you have reviewed your coverage and are happy with your plan, your coverage is set to renew automatically. This means nothing is needed on your end!

Preparing For The Annual Election Period

The most important thing you can do to prepare for the Annual Enrollment Period is to review your coverage. Even if you are satisfied with your current coverage, there could be another plan that provides the same coverage as your current plan, but for a much better price. Taking 20 minutes out of your day to review your coverage, could save you hundreds of dollars the next year. Trust us when we say it’s worth the 20 minutes! 

How Do I Review My Current Coverage?

You should receive something called an “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC) letter in the mail from your current insurance company no later than September 30th. This letter will include important information about any changes to your current plan, so be sure not to throw it out, and review it carefully. More specifically, this letter will contain anything from costs to benefit changes with your plan. This is what you will want to review and compare your coverage the previous year, to determine if you should explore alternate plans. 

Review All Your Current Medications

It’s important to review all your past and current medications to see if your current drug plan is still the best option, or if there could be a less expensive drug plan option. If any of your medications have changed from last year, or will be changing within the next year, make a detailed list to share with your agent so they can compare plans & prices to see if your current plan is still the best fit for you. Be sure to include the medication name as listed on the pill bottle, if it’s generic or brand name, the dosage, and the frequency you take it. The more information, the better! Have this list and/or any pictures ready to send to your agent when you review your coverage in October. 

Check-in With Your Doctor's Office

Medicare Advantage Plans can change benefits, premiums, formularies, and most importantly, networks each year. This can heavily impact you if you are unaware of the potential changes. If you’re currently enrolled in an Advantage plan, it’s important to confirm (2) things with your current providers and doctors office:

1) Confirm they will  still be in your plan’s network for the upcoming year. If they aren’t, you will have to change plans or providers, or pay a much higher out-of-pocket costs to stay with the same doctors and the same plan. Doctors are able to change networks anytime of the year. 

2) Confirm they will still be accepting Original Medicare next year. 

What Are My Options if My Rates Went Up?

We understand it can be frustrating reviewing your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) letter in September and noticing a rate increase with your current Advantage Plan or Part D Drug Plan. But no need to stress – you have options! Unfortunately, sometimes higher monthly premiums are a side-effect to networks, doctors, and medications constantly changing and being added or dropped from the plan. However, what you might not know is there might be a plan that is LESS expensive than your previous plan, with the same benefits, networks, etc. covered. Hence, actually saving you money! Although there is no guarantee there is a cheaper plan option, we always strongly encourage our clients to take advantage of the Annual Enrollment Period by taking the time to carefully review your ANOC letter for changes. Who knows… your current plan might have a rate increase, but there might be another plan available that will actually save you money with the same benefits! 

Compare Medicare Plans & SAVE!

If you’ve noticed that your rates have gone up, then you could be overpaying for your Medicare Advantage or Part D Drug Plan; and now is the time to get a free rate comparison to see if there are any better plan options available in your area. It only takes filling out our quote form HERE, or a quick 5-minute phone call to one of our agents to see if you are eligible to keep your identical coverage, but lower your monthly premiums and ensure you aren’t being overcharged!

If you’d like to get in touch with one of our agents, you can reach us at 1-(888)-321-6361 and we would be happy to assist you with your Medicare coverage.

Can I Switch From a Medicare Advantage to Supplement Plan?

If you are currently enrolled in an Advantage plan, but interested in switching to a Medicare Supplement plan, the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is the only time to switch. You can apply for a Medicare Part D plan as well. However, it is important to note that you will not automatically be enrolled in a Medigap plan – you will need to apply and be accepted by whichever company you applied for. 

This process requires you to answer health questions that are different for each carrier, and there is no guarantee you will be accepted. You might be wondering what type of questions they’ll ask you, that is a great question! While every insurance company is different and have their own list of questions, here are some examples that we pulled from various carriers to give you an idea of the type of questions they might ask you during the application process:

Are New Medicare Plans Ever Released During AEP?

Insurance companies will sometimes release new plans and the AEP is the time they do so. All the information regarding any new plans will be released utilizing the Medicare Plan Finder tool on the Medicare.gov website. This is where they will distribute all the plans available in your area, along with the plan information, such as: costs, benefits, networks, premiums, deductibles, etc. in addition to your personal Medicare records.  

Enrolling in a Part D Drug Plan for the First Time? Beware of Penalties!

If you are 65 and your Initial Enrollment Period has already passed, but you haven’t signed up for a Part D Drug plan, beware of the penalties associated. If you don’t have any drug coverage and you are 65, now is the time to sign-up to avoid any additional penalties. The way penalties work is if you have a gap in drug coverage 63 days or more at any point after you turn 65, a 1% per month penalty is accumulated for each month you went without coverage. The only exception is if you had any other credible health insurance or group insurance through your employer after you turned 65 then you will not be hit with any penalties.

Will My Medigap Plan Benefits Change During AEP?

Your Medicare Supplement plan benefits will not change like Part D and Medicare Advantage plans do. Luckily, your Medigap plan will cover the same benefits from year-to-year. However, your premiums may have a rate increase. This only happens on the anniversary date of your policy, and has nothing to do with the Annual Enrollment Period unless you signed up for your Supplement plan anytime in between October-December. If you have noticed a rate increase, we would be happy to provide you with a rate comparison from different companies to see if there is a better rate for your plan. Your carrier will send out a letter the month before your anniversary date that will inform you if there are any premium increases. If you want to compare the same plan with other carriers to see if another carrier offers the same benefits at a lower premium, a Medicare Hero can help.

Create a Medicare.gov Account

Most people are unaware of this great feature Medicare recently made available to Medicare beneficiaries, but it’s a great tool to utilize to stay organized and be able to have an overview of all your Medicare-related information. This includes anything from a list of all your prescription drugs to your insurance claims. You can find all your information in one spot and takes less than 5-minutes to enroll. This is a great way to get ahead of the game and not be overwhelmed by the AEP period approaching. 

Medicare Advantage Policyholders

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is an important time for you. This is the time to review your current coverage, and make any necessary changes if need be. Come October 1st, you should receive your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) letter in the mail from your current Medicare Advantage company. It’s important to review this letter to see if there has been any changes to your Advantage plan. These changes can include anything such as benefits, premiums, co-pays, deductibles, networks changes, etc. 

Additionally, Medicare releases the Advantage information for the upcoming year on October 1st. This is when you can start comparing and shopping for a new plan if necessary. Keep in mind if you shop for a new Advantage plan before October 1st, the plan (including benefits and costs) could change come October 1st. However, if you wanted to get ahead of the game, and start looking at potential plans, you can do so. 

One of the most important things to pay attention to if you have a Medicare Advantage plan is any network changes, considering this is a crucial aspect of an Advantage plan. Network changes are often common with Advantage plans, so we recommend talking to your doctor(s) to confirm they will still be in network next year, with your new plan. A great question to ask your doctor is “Is there any chance you will be leaving the network?” Doctors can change networks any time during the year so it good to know in advance if they plan of making any changes. 

Your Medicare Advantage plan will automatically renew each year. So if you are happy with your current Medicare Advantage coverage, then you do not need to do anything at all.

Part D Policyholders

Part D Drug plans DO typically change year-to-year, and you will probably experience changes in your plan for the upcoming 2022 year. These changes can include benefits, premiums, deductibles, copays and network changes.

Around the first week of October, you should receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) letter from your current Part D Drug plan insurance company. Additionally, drug plan information for the upcoming 2022 year will also be released during this time. It’s important to review your Annual Notice of Change letter because this will tell you about any changes to your plan in the upcoming year. This can include anything such as deductibles, monthly premiums, copays, network changes, and drug formulary for the next year. Keep in mind if you shop for a new Part D plan before October 1st, the plan (including benefits and costs) could change come October 1st. However, if you wanted to get ahead of the game, and start looking at potential plans, you can do so. 

Just like your other coverage Medicare coverage, it is important to remember that your drug coverage is set to automatically renew each year, so if you happy with your current drug plan then you do not need to do anything at all. However, if you have noticed rate increases or benefit changes and you are looking to shop for a new plan, we will provide you with some resourceful tools you can utilize to shop for a new plan

Read below for instructions on how to shop and compare your Part D plan options for next year.

Medicare Supplement Policyholders

Medigap benefits do not change yearly like Advantage and Part D plans do – so Medicare Supplement policyholders can change their plan anytime of the year and the AEP period is not an important time for Medigap policyholders. If you are wanting to switch from an Advantage plan to a Medigap plan, it’s important to note that you will have to answer health questions in order to be accepted. And you never want to disenroll in your Advantage plan until you are accepted by your new Supplement insurance company.  You might be wondering what type of questions they’ll ask you, that is a great question! While every insurance company is different and have their own list of questions, here are some examples that we pulled from various carriers to give you an idea of the type of questions they might ask you:   

As mentioned above, these are just some examples of the questions that they might ask you, but they do vary from carrier to carrier. So in summary, if you have a Medicare Supplement plan and have not noticed any rate increases, you do not have to worry or do anything during the Annual Enrollment Period. 

Helpful Plan Finder Tool

We are excited to introduce the new Plan Finder Tool! This Plan Finder Tool was introduced last year and is the best way to compare RX and Medicare Advantage plans online. Even better? It’s easy to use, and allows you instantly enroll online once you found the plan you want! All you have to do is enter your zip code, pharmacy, medications, and it will compare all of the different plans available to you. Additionally, you’re able to see all the details of the plans including the copays, deductibles, medication cost, prescription drugs covered, etc. The best part about it is you can enroll online once you found the plan you want! 

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO TUTORIAL TO LEARN HOW TO USE THIS GREAT TOOL!

Easily Save All Your Quotes

If you just wanted to check out plans, but aren’t ready to sign-up yet, a great feature the tool allows you to do is save your quote so you don’t have to type in all your information again. All you have to do is save the “8-digit personal code” in the top right corner on the website. If you want guidance in the future, or had a question on the tool, you would just need to provide your agent here at Medicare Hero with that 8-digit personal code, and they will have access to all your information and plans!

Want Help Reviewing Your Coverage Options?

It doesn’t matter if this is your first time, or fifth time going through AEP, Medicare can be confusing. That’s why we are here to help! If you would like your agent to review your coverage options for next year, then you can start by filling out the “coverage review form” button below to request your coverage review. As soon as Medicare releases next years plan information on October 1st, we will review your options based on the information you provided us, and send you a personalized coverage review & recommendation. If you have any questions or want to make a change in your coverage, then feel free to give us a call at 1-(888)-321-6361 and in a few short minutes we can answer all of your questions and help you apply for your new coverage.