Why it’s essential to renew your insurance
Insurance policies, including health coverage, renew on an annual basis. It’s important to keep track of your renewal dates to avoid a lapse in coverage. To be sure you receive notification reminders from your insurance plan administrator, verify that your contact information on file is current.
Forgetting to renew has several ramifications:
- Medical expenses incurred after the policy expires will be your responsibility.
- If you have a catastrophic medical incident, skyrocketing health care costs can lead to medical debt.
- You lose the assurance of continuing coverage of pre-existing conditions and may be subject to a waiting period stipulated by the insurer’s policy.
- Even if a grace period allows you to pay your premium after the expiration date and continue coverage without an underwriting process, that leaves you with a gap in coverage from the expiration date to the date the insurer receives your premium.
How to create an insurance renewal checklist
When it is time to renew your health insurance policy, set aside time to read all the upcoming changes carefully. Ask yourself how you will be personally affected regarding the benefits you need and the out-of-pocket costs you can afford. To simplify the process, you may want to create a checklist of questions to guide your research. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Do you use any of the services that will be added, removed or changed?
- Will updates in prescription drug coverage impact the cost of your ongoing medications? Will the drugs you need cost more? If so, do you need to talk to your doctor about lower-cost alternatives?
- Will the doctors, hospitals, outpatient facilities and pharmacies you use continue to participate in the plan’s network?
- Will your out-of-pocket costs be affordable next year, considering new premiums, deductibles, coinsurance and copayments?
- Have you had a good experience with this plan up to now, thinking about customer service, easy access to essential information and claims processing time?
Even if you check off all the boxes that indicate renewal is a good idea, you may want to compare other plans that service your area. Health coverage plans that were your second choice last year could have expanded benefits or established more favorable rates for the coming year.
Insurance renewal process
Typically, health coverage through an employer involves a human resources (HR) team. Keep an eye out for an interoffice announcement from HR, notifying you of the forms you need to complete and the deadlines for renewal.
Medical coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace may renew automatically. However, Healthcare.gov strongly advises all plan members to take advantage of the open enrollment period to continue, change or update their health insurance plans:
- Update your Marketplace application with your projected income and household information for the next cycle.
- Comparison shop for other plans to see if another option is better suited to your current health care needs.
- Enroll in a new plan, or renew your plan if not automatic, by December 15 for coverage effective January 1.
Whether you decide to renew or switch plans, be sure you have continuous coverage.