Whether you deal with a chronic condition and you have significant medical expenses or you simply want to ensure that your future needs are met at the lowest possible cost, you need the peace of mind that Medicare provides. But what happens if you forget to renew your 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 Medicare Part A and Part B, 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 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 October. The reason for this timing is the Medicare Open Enrollment period running from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year. If your plan will stop, you’ll need to 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 Plans), your plan will renew automatically, but numerous changes could take effect in the new year. Look for this form to arrive in September or October, allowing you to take advantage of the Medicare Open Enrollment Period.
Unlike a Plan Non-Renewal Notice, however, you’ll get an Annual Notice of Change 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 Annual Notice of Change in the mail, it’s in your best interest to read it carefully and accurately 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 Open 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 Open Enrollment Period, this 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 Open Enrollment Period: From Jan. 1 to Mar. 31 each year, you can cancel your Medicare Advantage Plan and change it back to Original Medicare or switch to another Medicare Advantage plan without incurring a penalty.
Whether you’re satisfied with your current coverage or you need a change, it doesn’t hurt to explore your Medicare options. Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated on the latest changes to Medicare coverage and Medigap policies.
Published: December 11, 2019