The Medicare Annual Notice of Change is Coming: How to Prepare - Western Asset Protection
Medicare Annual Notice of Change

The Medicare Annual Notice of Change is Coming: How to Prepare

Every year, Medicare enrollees receive the Medicare Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) prior to AEP. Agents should make sure that both they and their clients are ready. Change can be scary. Health insurance matters can be overwhelming. When you put the two together, it can be a stressful time for your clients. By letting them know what to expect, you can proactively alleviate potential concerns.

What Is the Medicare ANOC?

The Medicare ANOC is a letter that Medicare plans are required to send to enrollees each fall. It includes information on any changes that will apply to their plan in the following coverage year. These changes could include changes to what’s covered and how much enrollees will pay.

The ANOC is sent by the plan. If a person is enrolled in two Medicare plans – for example, a Medicare Advantage plan that does not include prescription drug coverage and a separate Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan – they will probably receive two letters, one from each plan.

When Will Beneficiaries Receive the Medicare ANOC?

Medicare plans are required to send out the ANOC by the end of September. Any changes will go into effect beginning January 1.

This timing is important. The Annual Election Period (AEP) starts on October 15. Clients should receive the ANOC before then, giving them time to prepare for AEP.

What Do Beneficiaries Need to Do?

The Medicare ANOC doesn’t require a response. However, it’s still important for enrollees to pay attention when they receive the notice.

  • Medicare enrollees should review the notice carefully and determine how they will be impacted by any changes. For example, if costs are increasing, enrollees need to decide whether the plan is still affordable and worthwhile. If a benefit is disappearing, enrollees should think about whether they use that benefit or might need to in the coming year.
  • Medicare enrollees should check to see if the plan is still a good fit for them. If the plan is changing significantly, it may no longer be a good match. This is true even if the enrollee has really liked the plan so far.
  • Even if the plan still looks good, enrollees may want to explore their other options. This is especially important if there are new carriers and plans in their area, or if the other plans in their area have added new benefits.

How Can Agents Help Their Clients?

Medicare enrollees receive a lot of mail. Some of it probably piles up (or gets thrown in the trash) without a thorough reading. This can be a big mistake, especially when it comes to something as important as the ANOC.

If Medicare enrollees don’t realize their plans are changing, they might stick with the same plan even though there are better options available. It happens more often than you might think. According to KFF, around 70% of Medicare beneficiaries don’t shop around during AEP. This means that the majority of enrollees may be in plans that no longer meet their needs as well as other plans could.

How to help your clients prepare:

  • Give them a heads-up about the ANOC. In late August, reach out to clients and tell them the ANOC is coming and what they should look for in the notice. Remind them that you are available to help them understand the information. If they know they should watch for the letter in September, they’re less likely to put it in a pile and forget about it. Consider sharing this helpful article about affording coverage when you reach out.
  • Be available and ready for questions. If your clients learn that their costs are going to spike or that they’re going to lose some of the coverage they depend on, they might be angry and worried. Be available to quickly answer calls and emails.
  • Let your clients know that you’re here for them and suggest a free coverage/comparison review. You want your clients to reach out to YOU with questions – not to some other agent who markets to them. Remind your clients that you are their partner. Also, invite them to share your contact information with friends and family who many have questions about their ANOC. Use this opportunity to generate referral business.
  • Stay compliant. The ANOC goes out in September, but you can’t start selling until October 1. When you reassure worried clients and help them understand their ANOC, make sure you’re not selling plans before it’s time. Let them know that you are scheduling free coverage comparison appointments after 10/1.
  • Start scheduling appointments. This is a great time to start booking appointments for AEP. Get your calendar ready now, and get appointments scheduled within the AEP selling period. Prior to your meetings, review this article for tips on how to help your clients navigate cost constraints

With the Medicare Annual Notice of Change and the AEP approaching, the year is going to get busy. Need guidance or support? Be sure to attend our free remote agent training and to attend WAPCon 2022, the leading AZ rollout and AEP conference. Contact us.