What happens if you don’t renew a Medicare plan?

Whether you deal with a chronic condition or you simply want to make sure your health needs are covered at the lowest cost, you need the peace of mind that Medicare provides. But what happens if you forget to renew a medicare plan?

Find out how to choose a Medicare plan that meets your needs and learn what you need to know about Medicare renewal.

Most Medicare Plans Renew Automatically

One of the most convenient aspects of Medicare is that plans typically renew automatically. This is true for Original Medicare and Medicare Supplement Insurance policies. Medicare Advantage and Part D plans will renew if the same plan exists the following year. Those plans, however, will likely change in some way from year to year.

Since the process takes care of itself year after year, you rarely have to take action to renew your existing Medicare coverage. That means you can look forward to uninterrupted coverage in each new year.

What to Do If You Receive a Plan Non-Renewal Notice

While most Medicare plans automatically renew, not all do. A Plan Non-Renewal Notice signals that your plan will be leaving the Medicare program in the upcoming year. That means your plan won’t auto-renew and you’ll need to choose a new plan in order to maintain coverage.

According to Medicare.gov, any plan that intends to make changes during the upcoming calendar year must send you a letter to that effect by the beginning of October. That is because the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period goes from October 15 to December 7 each year. If your plan will not continue next year, you must select a new one during this period. If you neglect to choose a new plan, your coverage could terminate and leave you without health insurance!

Steps to Take If You Receive an Annual Notice of Change

If you have Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) or Part D (Prescription Drug Plan), your plan will renew automatically, but numerous changes could take effect in the new year. You’ll receive a letter called the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). Look for this form to arrive in September or October, just before the Annual Enrollment Period begins.

Unlike a Plan Non-Renewal Notice, however, you’ll get an ANOC every year. These notices detail a wide variety of changes to the plan for the upcoming calendar year. They could include everything from a list of covered drugs to which pharmacies can dispense medications to the premiums and other costs related to the plan.

Since private insurers provide Part C and Part D, the costs and benefits have the potential to change drastically every year. When you receive your ANOC in the mail, read it carefully and assess how much the changes to the plan will affect your bottom line. If you’ll lose coverage for particular drugs or if your costs will increase exponentially, consider changing plans. Depending on your state, you may have several options.

When You Should Consider Changing Medicare Coverage

You can’t change Medicare coverage at any time you choose, but you have the right to shop around for different options during the Annual Enrollment Period. During this time, you can change your coverage in a few ways:

  • Leave Original Medicare and get a Medicare Advantage Plan instead.
  • Leave your Medicare Advantage Plan and go back to Original Medicare.
  • Switch Medicare Advantage Plans.
  • Purchase a new Medicare Part D plan for prescription drug coverage.
  • Switch Medicare Part D plans.
  • Cancel your Medicare Part D plan.

While you have the most leeway to change coverage options during the this time, it isn’t the only time you can make changes. If you don’t have sufficient coverage, you may be able to alter your plan during the following time periods:

  • Initial Enrollment Period: This seven-month period centers on your 65th birthday. During this time, you can choose Medicare coverage, sign up for a Part D plan, and shop around for Medigap plans, many of which have 30-day trial periods.
  • Special Enrollment Period: You’ll get a Special Enrollment Period if you meet certain circumstances. For instance, if you move, gain or lose employer-sponsored coverage, or involuntarily lose prescription drug coverage outside the normal enrollment window, you’ll get extra time to make changes.
  • Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period: From January 1 to February 14 each year, you can cancel your Medicare Advantage Plan and change it back to Original Medicare without incurring a penalty.

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