The 2022 Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) runs from October 15th – December 7th, for a January 1st, 2022 effective date. This article will explain the important considerations to keep in mind to prepare for AEP, to make sure you’re maximizing your benefits and coverage.
Your options during AEP
During this period, you can:
- Disenroll from Medicare Advantage and switch back to Original Medicare;
- Disenroll from Original Medicare and enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan;
- Switch your current Medicare Advantage plan to a new plan;
- Enroll in a Part D Prescription Drug Plan;
- Switch your Part D Prescription Drug Plan to a new plan; or
- Cancel your Part D Prescription Drug Plan altogether
Who can make changes during this period?
Only people who are currently enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. If you are not yet eligible for Medicare, you will need to wait until your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). If you’re already eligible but haven’t signed up, you’ll need to wait until the General Election Period (GEP) to sign up.
Why make changes during the Annual Enrollment Period?
Medicare Advantage and Part D Prescription plan health insurance carriers release new plans, and updates to existing plans, each year. That may mean that the premiums, copays and coinsurance of your current plan may change. There may also be new plans released in your area with benefits that are superior to your current plan.
You should receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANoC) in September each year from your Medicare Advantage of Prescription Drug plan health insurance carrier. The ANoC will explain any changes to the features and benefits of your current policy that will take effect the following year.
If you’re unhappy with the changes shown in your ANoC, you can change your coverage during the Annual Enrollment Period.
Things to consider when switching to a new plan during AEP
There are a variety of common reasons why you might want to consider switching to a new Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug plan:
Increase in your monthly premiums
You may pay a small or no monthly premium for your current Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug plan. If your ANoC shows an increase in this premium for your current plan for the following year, it might be a good time to shop around to see if there are other lower cost plans available.
Change in your medications
If you’ve had a change in your prescription medication needs during the year, it may be a good time to review your prescription coverage under your current plan and see if there are new plans which provide better coverage. There may also be a change in the copays and coinsurance that you pay under your current plan. You should find out whether your current plan will cover your prescription medications for the upcoming year, and if so, what the cost will be. In particular, if you take high-cost or specialty medications, it might be a good idea to check if any new plans available in your area offer lower costs.
Expected annual medical costs
You can compare expected total annual medical costs by considering how many doctor visits and procedures you expect to undertake in the upcoming year. You can use this same logic on your current plan and compare to other new plans available to see if you could be saving costs by switching plans.
Coverage of your doctors under the plan’s network
Doctor networks under Medicare Advantage plans change frequently. You should confirm that your doctors will still be covered under your current plan by contacting your Medicare Advantage plan member support. You should review the coverage of your current doctors under your current plan and compare to the network availability of your doctors under other plans as well.
If you expect to travel a lot in the upcoming year, you may want to consider a plan that allows you to see doctors and providers outside of the plan’s network, such as a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan. You could also consider switching to Original Medicare (and purchasing a Medicare Supplement plan), which will allow you to see all doctors and providers around the country who accept Medicare.
Access to extra additional benefits
If you’re currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, your plan likely offers additional benefits such as vision, dental, hearing, over-the-counter and fitness membership benefits (just to name a few). You should review the additional benefits available under new plans available when evaluating your plan needs for the upcoming year.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) uses a star ratings system to rate each Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug plan yearly. Each plan receives a rating out of 5 stars, with 5 being the highest possible rating. The factors used to determine the rating include customer service, member experience, and the number of member complaints. The ratings for Medicare Advantage plans are also based on preventative care services provided to help people stay healthy.
Preparing for the 2022 Annual Enrollment Period
Getting ready for the 2022 Annual Enrollment Period may seem like a daunting task, however CoverRight can help you search for the right plan that meets your unique needs and preferences. We have dedicated benefits consultants and licensed agents on hand to help you find the plan that’s right for you.