How to Change Medicare Supplement Plans
- In this Medicare Supplement review, we explain how to change Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans, including when and how to change plans and how to find the right plan for your needs.
There are 10 different standardized Medicare Supplement Insurance plans available in most states, and each offers a unique set of benefits. So it’s understandable that you might enroll in one plan only to realize it’s not the best one for your needs and wish to change. Or, you might relocate to a new area where additional plan options are available.
Below is a look at how and when to change Medicare supplement plans, also known as “Medigap.”
Can You Change Your Medicare Supplement Plan at any Time?
You can change Medicare Supplement Insurance plans at any time. However, certain times are better than others.
When You Have Guaranteed Issue Rights
When you’re first enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B and are at least 65 years old, you will begin your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This enrollment period lasts for six months, and you will have guaranteed issue rights throughout the period. That means insurance companies are not allowed to use medical underwriting to determine your plan premiums based on your health.
You are free to change Medigap plans during this six-month period without going through medical underwriting. Be careful not to confuse the Medigap Open Enrollment Period with other Medicare enrollment periods such as the Annual Enrollment Period or Initial Enrollment Period.
You can also have guaranteed issue rights at other times of the year. You might qualify for guaranteed issue rights for several reasons, such as:
- You move to a new area where your current Medicare plan isn’t offered
- Your Medigap insurance company goes bankrupt and you lose your current coverage
- An insurance company misled you during the enrollment process
When you don’t have guaranteed issue rights, insurance companies are allowed to use medical underwriting to determine your rates. You can then be charged a higher rate or even denied coverage entirely because of certain health conditions or poor overall health.
It should be noted that certain states have some exemptions to the rules pertaining to guaranteed issue rights.
- New York and Connecticut have guaranteed issue rights at all times.
- Maine allows beneficiaries to switch to a plan with equal of fewer benefits at any time.
- In California and Oregon, you may switch Medigap plans during your birth month every year without medical underwriting.
- In Missouri, you may switch plans every year with no underwriting during the month that you first enrolled in Medigap.
- In Washington, you may switch to Medigap Plan A at any time without underwriting.
During a Free Look Period
When you sign up for a Medigap plan, you may be given a 30-day “free look” period to decide if you wish to keep the plan. You must pay the premiums for both plans during this time and at the end of the 30 days will be given the option to keep one plan and terminate the other.
After Sampling Medicare Advantage
If you had a Medigap plan but then dropped the plan to enroll in a Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan for the first time, you have one year to switch back to Medicare Supplement Insurance with guaranteed issue rights. If you kept the Medicare Advantage plan for more than a year, you may still drop the plan and switch back to Medigap but will forfeit your guaranteed issue rights.
After Enrolling in a Medicare SELECT Plan and Then Moving
Medicare SELECT is a certain type of Medigap plan that restricts members to a network of participating health care providers. If you enroll in a SELECT plan and then later move out of the plan’s service area, you may switch to a new Medicare Supplement Insurance plan with the same or fewer benefits than the SELECT plan. If you had the SELECT plan for fewer than six months, you will retain your guaranteed issue rights.
How Do I Change My Medicare Supplemental Insurance?
Switching Medicare supplement plans requires you to simply contact the new insurance provider and apply for a plan. If your application is accepted, contact your old plan provider and request a cancellation of your policy.
If switching plans within the same provider, just contact the provider and notify them you would like to switch plans.
Can I Switch Medicare Supplement Providers?
Because not all insurance companies sell the same exact Medigap plans, switching policies may require switching Medicare supplement providers to get the plan you want. The rules for switching between Medicare supplement providers is no different than switching plans within the same provider. There is no penalty to switching to a Medigap plan from a different insurance company.
Can You Be Turned Down for Medicare Supplemental Insurance?
You may not be turned down for Medicare supplemental insurance if you have guaranteed issue rights. But if you do not have guaranteed issue rights, insurance companies have the right to deny you coverage if they determine you are too risky to insure because of your health.
Common conditions that may keep you from obtaining Medigap coverage include diabetes and heart disease.
Does Medicare Supplement Insurance Have a Waiting Period for Pre-Existing Conditions?
Insurance companies have a right to include a six-month waiting period for coverage of pre-existing conditions if you switch to a new plan without guaranteed issue rights.