Rules for renewing Medicare are different, depending on the plan. In some cases, policies will renew automatically, but some require a person to confirm renewal.

Medicare is a federally funded health plan for people aged 65 and older or those under age 65 with specific health conditions.

A person will not usually need to take any action to renew Medicare, as in most cases, this happens automatically.

In this article, we look at the process of enrolling and renewing original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. We discuss some exceptions and how to get a replacement card if needed.

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Although many Medicare plans renew automatically, some require a person to confirm renewal.

A person can first enroll with original Medicare during the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP).

The IEP opens for a total of 7 months. It first opens 3 months before a person’s birth month and closes 3 months after a person’s birth month.

If a person does not enroll within the IEP, a penalty may be applied to the premium.

An individual can apply for Medicare through the Social Security Administration (SSA). Enrollment can be carried out online or at a local Social Security office.

A person may be enrolled with Medicare automatically if they get Social Security benefits before the age of 65, or if they receive benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board.

If an individual is not automatically enrolled, they may sign up for premium-free Part A at any time during the IEP or after, without having to pay a penalty.

If a person pays a monthly premium for Part A, they must enroll during the IEP. Delayed enrollment can result in a late enrollment penalty, which can see the monthly premium go up by 10%.

The Part A late enrollment penalty is added to the monthly premium for twice the number of years enrollment was delayed. For example, if a person delayed enrollment by one year, the penalty will be added to the premium for two years.

Renewal of original Medicare is automatic, and no action needs to be taken by an individual to ensure their plan continues.

The policy will carry on until a person instructs Medicare otherwise, or stops paying the monthly premiums.

Private insurance companies sell Medicare Advantage plans. The plans must cover all the benefits of original Medicare. They can also include additional benefits like prescription medication, hearing, or dental care.

A person must have Medicare parts A and B to enroll in Medicare Advantage.

There are specific times of the year a person can enroll in Medicare Advantage. These are:

  • during their IEP
  • during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period from January 1 through March 31 each year
  • during the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan open enrollment period from October 15 through December 7 each year

Not all Medicare Advantage plans work the same way. A person may wish to compare plans to find one that suits their needs.

The ‘Find a Medicare plan‘ site is a helpful tool to look at the plans available in a particular area.

A person is not required to take any action to renew a Medicare Advantage plan.

Plans will usually renew automatically when a person pays the monthly premium. However, there are some exceptions.

Medicare Advantage plans may not renew automatically if:

  • the private insurance company offering the plan does not renew their contract with Medicare
  • a person moves out of the area that a private insurance company operates in
  • Medicare stops their agreement with the private insurance company

A Medicare card is proof of insurance. If the card is lost, stolen, or destroyed, a person can request a new card online, through their My Social Security account.

Once logged into the Social Security account, a person can click “Replace Documents” and then “Mail my replacement Medicare Card.” An individual can expect their new card through the mail within 30 days.

If a person needs their Medicare number quickly, they can log in to their MyMedicare.gov account, see their Medicare number, and print an official copy of the card.

Renewal for both original Medicare and Medicare Advantage is, in most cases, automatic. The main reason either plan would not automatically renew is if the insurer does not receive payment of a monthly premium. Other exceptions can also apply.

Cancellation of a Medicare Advantage plan may occur if a person is no longer in the coverage area of the private insurance company, or Medicare cancels the contract with the company themselves.

People can enroll in Medicare during their Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). If they miss this period, they may have to pay a penalty.

People can enroll in Medicare Advantage during the IEP or during the Medicare General Enrollment Period.