Generally, you do not need to renew Medicare coverage annually. This is true whether you are in the Original Medicare (Plans A and B), a Medicare Advantage plan (Plan C), or a Medicare Prescription Drug plan (Plan D). Continue to pay your premiums, and your Medicare coverage should automatically renew every year. Bear in mind the following exceptions for the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug plans.
If Your Plan Makes End-of-Year Changes
Several reasons may require you to sign up for a new plan at the end of the year:
- Your plan reduces its service area, and you now live outside of its coverage area.
- Your plan doesn’t renew its Medicare contract for the upcoming year.
- Medicare terminates its contract with your plan.
If any of the above situations apply, you will need to sign up for a new plan during a Special Election Period which runs from December 8 through the last day of February of the following year. If you have Medicare Advantage and don’t enroll in a new plan during the Special Election Period, its contract with you will be automatically returned to Original Medicare.
Your new coverage will begin on the first day of the month after you submit your enrollment application. For example, if you apply on February 8, your new Medicare plan will begin on March 1.
If Your Plan Makes Mid-Year Changes
Sometimes a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription Drug plan might terminate their contract with Medicare mid-year. If this happens, you will get a three-month Special Election Period which starts two months before the contract ends and runs an additional month after the contract ends.
Conversely, Medicare could terminate your plan’s contract. In this case, you will have a Special Election Period that begins one month before the termination effective date and ends two months after the effective date of the termination.
Reviewing Your Coverage
While you may not need to renew your Medicare coverage, it’s still a good idea to review your coverage annually. Your out-of-pocket expenses can increase based on changes in benefits, provider and pharmacy networks, drug formularies, and cost sharing. Comparing plans annually is one way to make sure your coverage continues to meet your health needs and budget.
If you need help finding a plan that could work for you, try our Medicare Cost Revealer.