Welcome to Countdown to OEP! This is the first part of a two-part series designed by Medicare Made Clear to help you navigate the 2013 Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP). Countdown to OEP gives you key information that can help you get ready for OEP. The second part of the series, OEP Boot Camp, starts in October.
As you think about your Medicare options for 2013, one of the first things you’ll want to know is how your current plan is changing next year. Your Medicare plan is required to tell you about next year’s plan changes before the Open Enrollment Period starts. How you can get that information depends on what type of Medicare plan(s) you have.
Original Medicare (Parts A & B): Medicare & You
In print: If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, then a complete description of your plan is located in the Medicare & You publication. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mails you an updated version of Medicare & You for the upcoming year each fall. CMS has stated that they will mail out the 2013 Medicare & You to current Medicare beneficiaries between September 16 and September 30, 2012.
Online: CMS also loads Medicare & You to the Medicare.gov website. Right now only the 2012 version of Medicare & You is online. Check the Medicare.gov Publications page at the beginning of October for the 2013 version. You can also check for translations of Medicare & You into languages other than English.
Medicare Advantage (Part C) and Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) Plans:
Annual Notice of Changes Mailing
In print: If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan, your plan is required to send a packet of information to you. This packet is usually called the “Annual Notice of Changes” mailing. It includes the following documents:
Annual Notice of Changes: As you might guess from its title, this document of about 20 pages lays out all plan changes for the coming year against the benefits as they are in the current year. So your 2013 Annual Notice of Changes will show 2012 vs. 2013 benefits, so you can see how what’s coming is different than what you have now.
Evidence of Coverage: This is a longer document of approximately 200 pages. It includes a full, legal description of all benefits included in your plan for 2013—not just the ones that are changing.
Formulary: If you’re enrolled in a Part D plan, or have prescription drug coverage included in your Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll receive a formulary. It’s a list of prescription drugs covered by your plan, and includes information on drug co-pays for the coming year. Note: Your plan may send out either a full or abridged (shortened) formulary, which would include only the most commonly prescribed drugs.
Your plan may choose to include other information in the Annual Notice of Changes mailing as well.
Online: CMS requires the insurance companies who provide Medicare Part C and Part D plans to post the documents included in the Annual Notice of Changes mailing on their websites by October 1. If you don’t know the address of your plan’s website, you can check your member ID card. If it’s not there, call the Customer Service number.
Remember: It’s up to you to learn about your Medicare plan choices for 2013 in time for the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (October 15 – December 7). If you’re having trouble understanding any of the documents described above, it’s a good idea to get help. See a previous post in this series, Where Can I Get Help Choosing the Right Medicare Plan for Me (or My Loved One)? for places to check for help.
But wait—there’s more! Come back for the next installment of Countdown to OEP: Two Paths to Medicare Coverage
Read other posts in the OEP Countdown series:
For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.
Medicare & You—Medicare.gov
Medicare Eligibility and Enrollment—MedicareMadeClear.com
Y0066_120911_143028 CMS Accepted