Do You Have To Enroll In Medicare Every Year?

By: Meredith Miller
Published: Thursday, November 29 2018
Last Updated: 4 years ago

Medicare enrollment and Medicare renewal can be confusing to even the most well read person. There is a lot of information that must be understood and several important dates you must remember. Understanding how Medicare enrollment and Medicare renewal works is the first step to getting the healthcare you need in your senior years.

The Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP) runs each year from October 15 - December 7. You need to apply during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period if you want to keep benefits and avoid potential late enrollment fees or breaks in coverage.

Do You Need To Renew Your Medicare Each Year?

The short answer to this is no, you do not have to go through Medicare enrollment each year. If you receive Original Medicare Part A and Part B then you will not have to reapply every year. During the enrollment it is a good time to check over your plan and make sure that it is meeting your needs or that you do not require a different amount of coverage.

What About Medicare Advantage?

If this is the type of Medicare plan that you have, there is a possibility you may have to renew your policy. This is done during the Medicare Annual Election Period. The private insurance that takes care of your benefits has the options to make changes to the plan. These changes are then sent to Medicare for review. If Medicare approves them, then the people on that plan will not have to re-enroll and it will renew automatically.

Should the proposed changes not be approved by Medicare, then a Plan to Renewal Notice will be sent to anyone who has that Medicare Advantage Plan. At that time, you will need to begin looking for a new Medicare Advantage Plan for the upcoming Medicare annual election period.

Medicare Supplement Renewal

Medicare Supplement plans, or Medigap, are a separate addition to your Medicare. The Medicare Supplement renewal will occur every year with the company that holds your plan. As long as you continue to keep your Medicare Part A and Part B and continue to pay any required premiums, then your Medicare Supplement Renewal is guaranteed.

Medicare Part D (Prescriptions Drug Plans)

Medicare Part D will generally renew each year with your Original Medicare or your Advantage Plan. It’s got the same regulations as the other plans. As long as your premiums are paid and you continue to receive Medicare Part A and/or Part B then your Medicare Part D will continue.

Are There Exceptions To The Rule?

There are some exceptions to these rules. Some of these plans will not renew if one or more of the following occur:

  • If your plan provider reduces the area that they are servicing and you no longer live within the correct area or you move out of area.
  • Your current plan does not renew its Medicare coverage and you must find a new Medicare Plan.
  • If your plan does not remain in the Medicare Program for the entire year.
  • Medicare terminates the contract with your plan provider.

There are also special circumstances that allow you to be able to renew your Medicare plan during Special Enrollment Periods. Some of these reasons include:

  • You no longer live in your current plans service area.
  • There are new options in an area that you have moved to.
  • Should you have moved back to the United States after living out of the country.
  • Just got released from jail.
  • You lose your Medicaid coverage.
  • Loss of insurance through a union or work.
  • Or if you are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.

This list is not all inclusive, but touches briefly on reasons that may cause for renewal when it is not open enrollment.

When You’ll Be Required To Renew Your Medicare Plan

There are instances that you will be required to renew your Medicare Plan. It is possible that over the year your healthcare needs have increased and there are now expenses not covered. It is also possible that your financial standing has changed. Both of these are reasons to reassess and reapply.

What If You Want To Switch Coverage?

The Annual Enrollment Period is the time to decide if the plans you have meet all your needs. Should you want to look at plans that cover more or add extra protection should your health deteriorate, then this is the time to switch or add coverages.

If you decide that you would rather have Medicare Advantage over the Original Medicare Plan, then Open Enrollment would be the first opportunity to be able to do that. It is possible to look at all the different Medicare plans in a service area at the government Medicare website. This gives you the ability to look at all the different coverages in your area.