Even if you are satisfied with your current Medicare coverage, it is still a good idea to review the Annual Notice of Change that Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plan members receive each September. In reviewing changes to your current plan or considering other Medicare options for the coming year, you might discover a plan that not only offers better coverage than what you have now, but also one that has a more affordable price tag.

Should you find a more suitable plan option, you will then have from October 15 to December 7 – a timeframe known as Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period — to implement certain changes to your existing plan.

What Is the ANOC?

The Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) will outline forthcoming changes to your plan starting in January of the coming calendar year. Changes may include shifts in coverage of prescription medications, plan costs, the network of providers, or other benefits.

The ANOC is sent by your plan via snail mail or email. If you have not received it by September 30, contact your plan directly to inquire.

Why Do I Need to Review My ANOC?

1. You Might End Up Paying More Out of Pocket — If you are not looking over your ANOC, you may remain unaware of an important pending change to your plan that will soon cost you more money.

For example, your plan’s covered list of medications – called a formulary – can change each year. If you rely on a certain prescription medication that will no longer be included under your Medicare Advantage or Part D plan, or that will shift to a new tier, you may end up paying a great deal more at the pharmacy when January arrives.

Copayments for medications, plan premiums, and deductibles also can shift from year to year. Be sure to look through your ANOC for any potential cost increases.

2. Your Provider May No Longer Be Covered — Have a longtime physician or a certain specialist you particularly like? If you take time to review your ANOC, you may find out that those providers will no longer be in your network in the new year.

Make a list of your current preferred providers and pharmacies, and then check your ANOC to ensure those providers are still included.

3. Your Current Plan May No Longer Be the Best Fit for You — Whether you loathe having to jump through hoops to secure a referral or have recently been diagnosed with a health condition that will likely require treatment from a specialist next year, do not throw your ANOC into the recycling bin or file cabinet without taking a closer look. You could be missing out on a plan that better suits your current, or anticipated, health needs.

To explore your options and compare plans in your area, check out Medicare’s online Plan Finder tool.

Questions? Reach out to Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE, or contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program for unbiased guidance.