Medicare Renewal: Do I Have to Sign Up for Medicare Every Year?

Fact Checked

Once you sign up for Medicare, you don’t have to enroll again. However, it’s wise to review your options annually. You may choose to enroll in a new plan each year to update your coverage. Get answers to the most common questions when it comes to re-enrolling in Medicare, when you may have to re-enroll, and what additional coverages to consider when you make changes to your Medicare coverage.

Do You Have to Renew Your Plan if You're Keeping Medicare Coverage?

No, you don’t need to renew Medicare if you’re keeping the same plan. Once you settle on a Medicare plan, you do not have to actively renew your plan annually in most situations. However, it can be smart to review your plans annually to ensure you have a plan that meets your needs and budget, especially for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.

Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans can change annually. Changes may include drug or provider offerings, the premium, or your out-of-pocket limit. You can choose a different plan, or you’ll be notified to enroll in a new plan if you’re no longer in the plan’s service area.

For Original Medicare (Parts A and B), there are no renewal requirements once enrolled. Medigap plans ― also known as Medicare Supplement plans ― auto renew annually unless you make a change.

How Can You Change Your Medicare Plan During the Annual Enrollment Period?

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) lasts from October 15 to December 7 each year. Changes that you make during this period go into effect January 1 of the next calendar year.

During this time you can make changes to your Medicare plan:

  • You can switch between Original Medicare and a Medicare Advantage Plan
  • You can switch to a new Medicare Advantage or Medicare Drug Plan

There are two ways to change your Medicare plan during open enrollment:

  1. You can do it yourself at
  2. You can get help from someone else, such as a licensed agent, to help you find the right plan for you based on your needs and area.

What To Do During AEP To Change to a Medicare Advantage Plan?

If you decide to enroll in a new Medicare Advantage or Part D plan during the AEP, you need to enroll in the new plan by December 7th. You can make changes as many times as you want during this period. The only one that will be processed is the last one you enroll with.

Most people work with a licensed professional to select a Medicare Advantage Plan. A professional can ensure that your plan covers the drugs and medical professionals you use. Medicare Advantage Plans can range widely in both formulary and the providers that accept your chosen insurance company and plan.

Do You Have to Re-Enroll if You Want To Add to Your Medicare Coverage?

In most cases with a Medicare Advantage Plan, you will not have to re-enroll to add to your Medicare coverage.

However, if you’re switching from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare, there are a number of coverages that you will need to decide upon.

What can you add to your Medicare coverage?

  • Part D drug plan: Most outpatient drugs that you get from the pharmacy fall under Part D. Original Medicare (Parts A and B) will not cover these medications.
  • Medicare Supplement Plan: This plan helps cover the gaps between Original Medicare and what you’re expected to pay out of pocket. This includes things, such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copays for Parts A & B.
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Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)Ⓡ

As a health care professional since 1987, Kelly Blackwell has walked alongside and cared for seniors as they journey through the season of their fourth quarter of life. Blackwell holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Northern Colorado, a Master of Science in health care administration from Grand Canyon University, an interprofessional graduate certificate in palliative care from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and holds a Certified Senior Advisor® credential from the Society of Certified Senior Advisors.

Blackwell contributes to the University of Colorado-Anschutz blog and has been published in “The Human Touch” distributed by the University of Colorado Center for Bioethics and Humanities. She cowrote “Dying Is” for Pathways Hospice.

A registered nurse, Blackwell understands health insurance choices influence quality of life and are driven by values, goals, and beliefs. She’s passionate about engaging with, educating, and empowering seniors as they navigate the health care system. She’s equipped to lend an experienced, compassionate voice to beneficiaries seeking information about Medicare Advantage Plans.

As a CSAⓇ, Blackwell has access to valuable resources for Medicare beneficiaries. Her work as a bedside nurse and clinical manager has given her the opportunity to see how Medicare rules, regulations, and benefits work when patients need them. With a passion to learn and to make a difference in the lives of seniors, Blackwell supports seniors through Medicare and fourth-quarter life decisions.

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