Can I Change Medicare Supplement Plans Anytime?
So you’ve got a Medicare Supplement plan, and you’ve heard about a different one. “Can I change Medicare Supplement plans anytime?” you might be asking. The answer is “Maybe” – it depends on your situation.
Before you change Medicare Supplement plans: a brief overview
As you may know, Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans are different from Medicare plans. They’re designed to supplement your Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) coverage by paying for certain out-of-pocket costs. For example, a Medicare Supplement plan may pay your coinsurance or copayments from Medicare Part A and Part B. Some Medicare Supplement plans may cover Part A and/or Part B deductibles*, and more.
Why might I want to change Medicare Supplement plans?
You might be happy with your current Medicare Supplement plan. But there are some situations where you might want to change plans. Here are a few examples:
- You found a Medicare Supplement plan for a lower premium. Maybe you even found the same plan for less money, offered by a different insurance company.
Every standardized Medicare Supplement plan with the same lettered name has the same basic benefits no matter where you buy the plan. For example, every Medicare Supplement Plan A (not to be confused with Medicare Part A) includes the same basic benefits. So, if you have Medicare Supplement Plan A (or any letter), and you see a plan of the same name being sold by a different insurance company, the basic benefits will be the same. Please note that Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have differently standardized plans.
- You’ve found that you need more benefits than your Medicare Supplement plan offers, and you’d like to switch to a plan with more benefits.
- You’ve found that you don’t need or want all the benefits than your Medicare Supplement plan offers, and you’d like to switch to a plan with fewer basic benefits and possibly a lower premium.
- You’d like to buy your plan from a different insurance company.
When can I change Medicare Supplement plans?
One interesting feature of Medicare Supplement plans is that you can apply for a plan anytime – you only need to be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. However, a plan doesn’t have to accept your application, unless you have guaranteed-issue rights.
The same is true if you want to change Medicare Supplement plans.
Guaranteed-issue rights mean that when you apply for a Medicare Supplement plan – whether you’re changing plans or buying one for the first time – you can’t be turned down if:
- You’re enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B, and
- You’re within your 6-month Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period (OEP). This time span starts the month you’re both age 65 or older, and enrolled in Part B, or
- You have guaranteed-issue rights after your OEP, for a different reason (see below).
Can you change Medicare Supplement plans anytime?
Suppose you have a Medicare Supplement plan, and you want to switch plans outside the OEP described above. In most cases the insurance company can review your medical records and consider your health condition. They can charge you a higher premium or even refuse to accept you as a member.
Certain situations might give you guaranteed-issue rights to change Medicare Supplement plans. There are several situations when you might have guaranteed-issue rights. Here are a few of them:
- You signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time, and decided you want to drop the plan and buy a Medicare Supplement plan instead. (The two types of coverage don’t work together.)
- You have a Medicare SELECT plan, and you’re moving out of the plan’s service area. Medicare SELECT plans are generally the only Medicare Supplement plans that have provider networks that you might have to use. You can either change to a standardized Medicare Supplement plan with the same or fewer basic benefits than your current plan, or buy any Medicare Supplement plan A, B, C*, F*, K, or L.
- You’ve had your current Medicare Supplement plan for less than six months. If the insurance company agrees to sell you a new policy with the same basic benefits, it can’t add conditions (such as probationary periods) related to pre-existing health problems. However, you might have to wait up to six months before the plan covers your pre-existing condition.
Remember, this list is just a few examples. If you want to change Medicare Supplement plans, you can call the insurance company and ask.
Changing Medicare Supplement plans: the free look period
Did you know that you may get a “free look period” when you change Medicare Supplement plans? When you switch from one Medicare Supplement plan to another, you typically get 30 days to decide if you want to keep it.
This 30-day free look period starts when you get your new Medicare Supplement plan. You’ll need to pay the premiums for both your new plan and your old plan for one month.
How can I change Medicare Supplement plans?
To change Medicare Supplement plans, call the insurance company that’s selling the plan you want. If they accept your application, call your current Medicare Supplement insurance company and ask how to end your coverage with your current plan.
- Keep your current (old) plan for the 30-day free look period described above.
- If you decide you like the new plan, contact the insurance company who sold you your old plan and cancel it in writing. Follow the insurance plan’s instructions. Your insurance agency can’t cancel the plan for you.
- If you decide not to stay with the new plan, you can keep your old one. But once you cancel the old policy, you generally can’t get it back.
*Medicare Supplement plans that may cover the Medicare Part B deductible – Plan C and Plan F – will eventually be discontinued. Starting January 1, 2020, you won’t be able to buy Plan C or Plan F if you’re new to Medicare. If you qualify for Medicare before that date, you may be able to buy Plan C and Plan F. You typically won’t have to give up Plan C or Plan F if you have it already.
If you’d like some help changing Medicare Supplement plans, feel free to contact a licensed eHealth insurance agent at the phone number below.
Want to browse Medicare Supplement plans to review their basic benefits and see which one may be a good fit for you? Just enter your ZIP code in the box on this page to get started.
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