How to Navigate Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage

October 1, 2021

Your mailbox is no doubt spilling over with postcards and envelopes stuffed full of information about Medicare Advantage plans for you to consider. Likely not what you thought you’d be doing during your retirement years! To ensure you are on track for the Annual Enrollment Period, there are a few simple tips to finding a Medicare Advantage plan – so you can get back to doing the things you love.

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for 2022 Medicare Advantage plans is October 15 to December 7, 2021. This is the time when you can sign up for certain types of plans, switch plans or leave a plan with coverage that starts January 1, 2022.

What does this mean for you? Take these 5 steps to ensure you’re on track!

5 Steps to Ensure You’re on Track for AEP

  1. If you currently have a Medicare Advantage plan, be sure to look for your plan’s Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) arriving in your mailbox in September. Open the ANOC and take time to review any changes in your plan for the coming year. The side-by-side comparison makes it easy to identify these changes.
  2. Consider your needs for the coming year by making a list of your doctors, hospitals, medications, and other needs you might have.
  3. Decide if your current plan’s coverage for the coming year meets your needs. If it does, you’re all done, and you don’t have to do anything more!
  4. If your current plan will not cover your needs or it does not offer the additional benefits you want, make plans to shop around.
  5. Mark your calendar for the AEP timeframe – October 15 to December 7 – so you don’t miss the deadline.

Now, let’s take a closer look at these steps.

Review your Annual Notice of Change

By September 30, your Medicare Advantage insurance company will send your ANOC for the plan you are currently enrolled in. It’s important to take time to read and understand your ANOC because it affects your plan’s coverage for the next year. This document details all changes in your plan for the coming year which may affect your coverage, costs, service area, and monthly premium.

Determine Your Needs for 2022

Make a list of your doctors and specialists as well as hospitals you might use. Review your list of medications and determine if they are generic or name brand as this affects the amount you will pay for prescription drugs. Now think about your other needs such as eyeglasses, dental work, or new hearing aids you’ll need in the next year. You might also consider if having local service from a plan with a deep understanding of your community is important to you.

Compare Plans

Now that you know your needs, you might discover that your current coverage may not provide the protection or valuable extras you need. Your premium and deductibles may be increasing, or you may no longer have access to the doctors you want. If you like your current plan and its benefits and services, you are set! If not, it’s time to shop!

Plan to Shop Around

You may be able to get new benefits to improve your life and health. You could save money be getting more coverage like enhanced dental, richer allowances for eyewear and over-the-counter health products and low or no-cost hearing aids. You could also save money with lower premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximum amounts. This means more money for you to do the things you enjoy traveling or visiting the grandkids.

Consider these reasons when you shop:

  • Your plan has changed and no longer fits your needs
  • Your monthly premium is increasing
  • Your doctor is no longer in the plan’s network
  • Your prescription drugs won’t be covered, or the cost is increasing
  • You want more benefits than your plan offers

Understand the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) Deadlines

It’s important to start thinking about your needs so you can begin shopping and comparing as early as October 1. That’s when plan carriers begin sharing information about their 2022 plans. You can enroll in a 2022 plan starting October 15 with coverage starting January 1, 2022. Be sure to enroll before December 7 went AEP closes so you don’t miss out.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The HMO products are offered by Blue-Advantage Plus of Kansas City, Inc., and the PPO products are offered by Missouri Valley Life and Health Insurance Company, both wholly-owned subsidiaries of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.

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