Medicare

When Can You Change Your Medicare Supplement Plan?

If you want to change your Medicare Supplement plan, you can do so at any time. There is no official enrollment period for Medigap insurance, but you might have to undergo a medical underwriting procedure to switch providers.

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If you’re wondering when you can change your Medicare supplement plan, also knowns as Medigap insurance, there’s good news – you can change it any time.

Medicare supplemental insurance is designed to step in and help people who are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, also knowns as Original Medicare, and want an additional policy to cover some gaps in coverage, which is why this policy is often referred to as Medigap.

When Can I Change My Medicare Supplement Plan?

Once you turn 65 and enroll for Medicare for the first time, you have six months to line up your Medicare supplement insurance. During that six-month open enrollment period, you get the benefit of being able to select a policy without having to worry about going through medical underwriting.

Medical underwriting–an evaluation of your health often done by health insurance companies–can include a physical, a review of your medical history, and questions about familial health concerns. Not having underwriting means you can’t be turned down due to your health or be charged more for pre-existing conditions.

After that six-month period is over, you can still change Medigap policies at any time, but you may have to undergo medical underwriting. This is why it’s important to do some shopping when you first sign up and hopefully select a policy that you’ll keep. But things happen, and you might decide to change your supplemental plan or might be forced to find a new one.

If you’re making a change, there is a “free look” period which is one month long and it allows you to try another Medigap insurance while holding onto your old one. If you don’t like the new one, there’s no obligation to keep it, you can rescind and stick with your old one. The catch is that you do have to pay for both policies during your “free look” period, so it’s not actually free.

What Are My Limits When Changing Medicare Supplement Plans?

If you’re thinking about changing your Medigap insurance coverage and you’re past that initial six-month period, you’ll most likely have to undergo medical underwriting and you could be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. There are some differences by state so understanding your state’s rules is key.

If you happen to fall into a “guaranteed issue rights” situation, then you must be issued an insurance policy and you cannot be charged more based on your age and health. The following situations might qualify you for guaranteed issue rights:

  • Your current Medicare supplement has left your service area, or you’ve moved out of their area
  • Your original coverage was through an employer group health plan and that coverage is ending
  • Your Medigap insurance ends through no fault of yours – e.g., they went bankrupt
  • Your insurer misled you or broke the law
  • You decided to switch to Medicare Advantage from Original Medicare and now you want to move back to the original plan with a Medigap supplement

Why Should I Change Medicare Supplement Plans?

Even though changing medical supplement plans can result in medical underwriting, it’s still a good choice for some people. These are just some reasons why you might want to consider a switch:

  • You’re paying for coverage you do not need
  • You need more coverage than your current Medigap plan provides
  • You find another insurance provider with more affordable options
  • There’s a change in your financial situation
  • Your insurance is no longer available

Some of these situations will put you in the guaranteed issue rights category and others won’t. All of the reasons for changing Medicare supplement plans allow you a free look period when you can try out the other insurance while keeping your current plan.

How Can I Change Medicare Supplement Plans?

Your first step in changing Medicare supplement insurance is to look for a new policy and, when you find one you are interested in, apply for coverage. If you’re accepted, then it’s time to contact your current plan and let them know you’ll be switching coverage, but you will be taking the free look period.

Whether you call your agent or the company directly, you’ll be given specific instructions on how that insurance company expects you to cancel your policy. Your insurance agent cannot do it for you, so it’s key that you follow their instructions.

Having your new policy in place and knowing that this is the one for you needs to be decided and finalized before you cancel your old policy. The main reason for this is that you will probably not be able to get that “old” insurance back after the free look period is over. This can leave you underinsured or without a Medigap policy at all. You can learn more about switching policies on Medicare’s official website.