Medicare 2017 Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

calendar_October_15As a reminder, the Medicare 2017 Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) starts October 15, 2016 through December 7, 2016.

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan (MA) or a Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) this is the time you can elect to change your coverage and join a new plan for 2017.

It is important for you to review the renewal information sent from your plan provider for 2017.

You should receive the information by the end of September.

This information should contain:

  • Annual Notice of Changes (a summary of changes to your plan)
  • Evidence of Coverage (covers your plan in complete detail)
  • Prescription Drug Guide (list drugs covered and tier levels)

Don’t Get Caught Off-Guard

Every year the MA and PDP plans change. This can include premium increases, co-payment increases, drug tier level changes, or your doctor may no longer be in the plan.

As an example – Changes to a Prescription Drug Plan for 2017

  • The plan lowered its premium by $1.40 per month.
  • During 2016 if you used the plan’s mail order Tier 1 and Tier 2 prescription drugs were free to  plan participants.
  • A change in 2017 for the plan. The Tier 2 prescription drugs are no longer free via mail order and there is a co-payment.
  • The plan lowered its Tier 3 and Tier 4 co-payments for 2017 if you purchase through mail order

(I am a member of this plan and have already received my 2017 notice from them.)

Given there will be no COLA for 2017, if you call a 0.2% COLA a cost of living adjustment, this plan will affect seniors who currently receive their Tier 2 drugs via mail order, have a limited income and do not qualify for any extra help as they are just slightly over the income limit for extra help.

Please, please take the time to read the information your plan provider sends to you.   Don’t get a surprise in January 2017 when you visit your doctor or refill a prescription as you might have increased out-of-pocket costs.

If you need help to determine what the best Medicare plans might be for you, contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to get local help.  Please visit https://www.shiptacenter.org and select your State.

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