Medicare-approved insurers change policies from time to time. They raise copays, drop doctors, or stop providing particular Medicare plans. That's why you should consider reviewing and renewing your coverage benefits every time you get a chance.
Then again, if you just enrolled recently, you could be wondering when and how often you need to renew your Medicare. After all, you could have come across information claiming that Medicare renews automatically even if you do not take action.
My Eligibility Resource, a non-government entity connecting individuals to the right insurance providers, created this post to help you know when, how, and how often to renew Medicare to ensure it fits your healthcare needs, always.
When to Consider Renewing Medicare
Usually, your Medicare program renews itself each year, as long as you have been paying the monthly premiums religiously. However, there are several occasions when you should not let your current plan renew itself without your review. Such circumstances include when:
Your Insurer is Discontinued From Medicare
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services can terminate its cooperation with insurers, healthcare facilities, and professionals anytime within the year. On the other hand, insurers, health facilities, and professionals working with Medicare might fail to renew their contracts with Medicare. If that happens, you must find an alternative insurer or facility to keep serving you.
You Stopped Paying Monthly Premiums
Insurers can terminate your contract once you stop paying premiums for an extended period. Therefore, if you wish to enjoy coverage after taking a break from paying monthly premiums, you must prepare to renew Medicare when the Medicare enrollment period is coming up. Your previous contract with a Medicare-approved insurer won't renew itself.
You Have Changed Your Residence
Medicare-approved insurers work within specified service areas. That means you lose coverage, if you move to an area not served by your current Medicare insurer. For that reason, when you move to distant areas, let's say from one state to another, check if your insurer covers the area. If not, you have to find a different one serving your current location.
You Want a New Insurer
Your current plan or insurer will not offer the best service always. Perhaps your healthcare needs changing, you want a new benefit not covered under your current plan, or you wish to try a new insurer. In such a case, you need to substitute your current insurer or plan with an alternative that makes the most sense for your healthcare situation.
When can you Drop or Switch Plans/Insurers?
There are three periods when you can smoothly renew your Medicare plan—the annual enrollment period, the Medicare Advantage enrollment period, or the special enrollment period. Each enrollment period targets various Medicare beneficiaries.
The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period begins mid-October and runs until December 7 of every year. In this enrollment period, anyone with Medicare can change, drop, or add plans. The changes you make come into effect at the start of the following year.
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period starts in the New Year and runs through to the end of March. This enrollment period is for beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare advantage to switch to a different plan or quit the Medicare advantage plan.
Besides the open enrollment periods, you can renew Medicare during any other time you experience a life qualifying event— the enrollment period has no specific dates. Mostly, the special enrollment period favors:
Citizens who moved into a new State: The people who can take advantage of this qualifying life event are those who just moved to an area not covered by their insurer, moved to the US after years of living in another country or completed a sentence.
Citizens without coverage: You can apply for Medicare during the special enrollment period if you lost insurance coverage from an employer, Medicaid, or the Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.
Medicare Sanctions your Plan: If Medicare ceases cooperation with your current plan before an open enrollment period, you can switch to a new plan two months before the end of the contract or one month after the termination of the contract.
How to Renew Medicare
Renewing your Medicare plan, especially when it involves dropping plans or insurers, is a significant decision. You have to shop around for an insurer that offers premiums, copays, and medical alliances that make the most sense for your healthcare needs.
You also need to choose a plan that offers the best coverage for your healthcare needs. To avoid making regrettable choices, use the following pointers as a benchmark.
Define Your Medical Needs
Before changing plans or insurers during the Medicare renewal period, take time to understand your unique health needs. For instance, identify the primary care providers you prefer, your existing health issues, and the price you can afford to pay as premiums. The information helps you choose a plan or insurer that fits your healthcare and health preferences.
Identify the Right Plan or Medicare-approved Insurer
Since Medicare plans and insurers are not created equal, take time and shop around for a plan and insurer whose benefits align with your financial and healthcare preferences. A suitable plan or insurer should have professional care providers, offer affordable premiums, and provide the most coverage for the money you pay.
Renew your Medicare Plan
With a good plan or insurer in mind, proceed to make changes when the Medicare enrollment period is coming up. The renewal process is as straightforward as enrolling for Medicare. You can do it yourself or ask someone to help you with the process.
How Often to Renew Medicare
Typically, you should renew Medicare once a year, especially when the open enrollment period comes up. To make up your mind, review your annual notice of a change, a letter that notifies you of changes in costs, service area, and benefits. Medicare beneficiaries receive the document each September.
After reviewing the notice, decide whether you need to keep your current plan or find a better one. Analyzing and renewing your plan yearly gives the assurance you need to move forward, knowing that you are appropriately covered against unforeseen medical issues. Never wait for Medicare to automatically renew your plan.
Contact My Eligibility Resource for Help With Medicare Renewal
Though not necessary, renewing your Medicare annually is important. It helps you find a plan or Medicare-approved private insurance that gives the most benefits for a monthly premium you can afford. Nonetheless, you don't have to renew your current Medicare plan if it serves you better.
Fill out the form on My Eligibility Resource's site or call our agents at 1 (877) 751-7275 (TTY: 711) if this is the first time you plan to renew, and you do not know how to go about the process. Our agents will help you make better decisions regarding changing plans, choosing the right insurer, and more.