If you are a Medicare beneficiary, re-enrolling in Medicare each year is something that is not required. Medicare coverage is designed to renew each year automatically for its policyholders. However, suppose you would like to make changes to your Medicare coverage. In that case, it is highly recommended to take action by having those changes ready and completing them before the renewal deadline.
Have Your Health Care or Financial Needs Changed?
There are many questions one should ask to determine if they should take action at the following year’s renewal or if they should just let the policy auto-renew. However, the most critical question to ask is, “have any of my health care or financial needs changed this year?” Whether the answer to this question is yes or a no, it is highly recommended that you still review the plan you currently have. Plans can change from year to year, so it’s a good idea to make sure it’s still the plan you remember from last year. Also, a plan that you didn’t like a few years ago might be making some favorable changes during this renewal period. This would give you cause to give that other policy another look.
If you are not sure if your health care needs have changed, here are a few questions that will help you to decide:
- Are you visiting a doctor more than usual?
- Are you taking more medications than you have in the past?
- Have you been diagnosed with an acute disease?
- Are you still taking generic medication, or did your doctor put you on something more powerful (more powerful could mean more expensive medicines)?
- Do you need to look at Medicare Advantage (Part C)?
No one likes to put a dollar value on the level of healthcare they want to give themselves. However, thinking about your health care and your budget are two essential things that should be somewhat aligned.
Did Your Current Medical Plan Make Any Changes For the New Plan Year?
In addition to considering if you will take action at renewal, you must think about your current medical plan. Sometimes, a person who has had no health care or financial changes will opt to keep their current plan during the year. However, policies are always subject to change; it doesn’t mean they will change, but it’s imperative that you at least review your current policy each renewal period to check for differences.
Every year, Medicare organizations, and prescription drug plans, renew their contracts. When they do this, the result could mean changes to your plan. During negotiation, Medicare must review and either choose to approve or deny the proposed modifications. If Medicare approves a change submitted by one of their organizations or prescription drug plans, you will auto-renew again on that plan. However, sometimes, Medicare may not approve changes submitted for the plan or leave Medicare altogether. If a plan leaves Medicare, by law, you will get a letter in the mail called a Plan Non-Renewal Notice.
If you get a Plan Non-Renewal Notice, it does not mean you are dropped from insurance. Instead, it means that the plan you have is no longer going to be offered. Thus you are not able to auto-renew. You must now select a new plan at renewal. Don’t worry; this news is not just dropped upon you. You will be given advanced notice. These notices typically go out in October of the current year for plans that will be non-renewing in the next year.
What About Medicare Part D Plans?
If you have Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, it is a good idea to always compare it to other available plans that you are eligible for. The reason being, the plan you selected last year might have made some changes to its drug list (formulary). This could dramatically affect what you are used to paying for your medications. Also, as your medication needs increase or decrease each year, you may want to decide to go with a less expensive or a more expensive coverage plan than your current plan offers.
As you can see, it is always a good idea to review your Medicare coverage at renewal just to make sure nothing has changed. Not doing so could mean being stuck with a plan you do not want or need for another year. On the other hand, giving your insurance a thorough review can help you select a new plan that seems to have been tailor-made just for you.
To learn more about enrolling in Medicare and renewal information, contact our licensed insurance experts who will be happy to answer any questions you have.