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Should I Switch Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Insurance Policies?

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 Are you unhappy with your current Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance coverage and thinking of switching plans? Also known as Medigap, these plans may help with certain out-of-pocket costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, including copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.

Sometimes, as your health and financial needs change, you may realize that your current Medigap coverage is no longer a good fit for you. There can be good reasons to consider changing Medicare Supplement insurance plans:

  • You’re dissatisfied with your Medigap insurance company.
  • Your plan premiums have gotten too expensive.
  • You want a plan with less coverage because you’re paying for benefits you’re not using or don’t need.
  • You need more coverage now than when you first enrolled in your plan.

Keep in mind that the timing and circumstances of when you change plans can affect the rights you have, the costs you pay, and the plans you have available to you. If you’re thinking of changing policies, read on to learn more about the best time to make changes to your Medicare Supplement insurance coverage.

When is the best time to switch Medigap insurance policies?

In general, the best time to enroll in or make changes to your Medicare Supplement insurance coverage is during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, the six-month period that starts when you’re 65 or older and have Medicare Part B. That’s because during this time, you can join any Medicare Supplement insurance plan offered in your service area with guaranteed issue, meaning the Medigap insurance company can’t turn you down for coverage or charge you higher premiums because of pre-existing conditions*. If you join a Medigap plan during this six-month window and decide you don’t like it, you can switch to a different Medigap plan during this period with guaranteed-issue rights.

Keep in mind that once your Medigap Open Enrollment Period is over, you may have more trouble changing Medicare Supplement insurance plans, or your coverage may cost more. That’s because outside of this period, in most cases Medigap insurance companies can require medical underwriting or take your health status into consideration when reviewing your application. Your premiums may be higher if you have health problems – or you could be rejected entirely.

In a few limited situations, you may be able to enroll in a Medigap plan with guaranteed issue. For example:

  • Your Medigap insurance company went bankrupt.
  • Your Medigap insurance company misled you or committed fraud.
  • You lose your Medigap coverage through no fault of your own.
  • You’re enrolled in Original Medicare and have an employer- or union-sponsored group plan that pays after Medicare has paid its share, and that group health plan is ending.
  • You’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and your plan is leaving the Medicare program, or you move out of the plan’s service area.
  • You’re enrolled in a Medicare SELECT policy (a type of Medigap plan that uses provider networks), and you move out of the Medicare SELECT plan’s service area.
  • You enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, or in a “Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly” (PACE) program, when you were first eligible for Medicare Part A at age 65, and you change your mind within the first year and want to return to Original Medicare.
  • You drop your Medigap plan to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time, change your mind in the first year, and want to switch back to Original Medicare and your Medigap plan.

Depending on the situation, you may be able to enroll in any Medigap plan offered in your state, or you may only have guaranteed-issue rights to enroll in certain policies.

Can I go back to my old Medigap insurance policy if I switch and don’t like my new policy?

If you’re thinking about changing Medigap plans, it may be a good idea to stay enrolled in your current Medicare Supplement insurance plan until you’re sure you want to keep your new policy. You’re not normally allowed to keep more than one Medigap policy at a time. However, state laws give you a 30-day “free-look period” to try out a new Medicare Supplement insurance plan, while keeping your current Medigap policy. If you decide you don’t like your new policy, you can cancel the second policy and go back to your original Medigap plan. Think of it as a trial period for your new Medicare Supplement insurance plan — without having to worry about not being able to get back your old Medigap plan if the new plan doesn’t end up working out.

Here’s how the “free-look period” works:

  • In your application for the new Medigap plan, you must state that you will cancel your first policy after the 30-day period has ended.
  • You’ll need to pay two premiums for that one month (both for your original Medigap plan and the new policy).
  • After 30 days, you can cancel your first Medigap plan if you decide to keep your new policy. If you don’t like your new Medigap plan and are still in your free-look period, you can cancel the second policy and keep your first plan. Contact your insurance company for details on canceling your Medigap coverage.

Do you have questions about changing Medigap plans? Feel free to contact eHealth to get your questions answered; a licensed insurance agent can help you figure out what Medigap plan options you may have available to you.

This website and its contents are for informational purposes only. Nothing on the website should ever be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment for a health condition, including decisions about the correct medication for your condition, as well as prior to undertaking any specific exercise or dietary routine.

 *Pre-existing conditions are generally health conditions that existed before the start of a policy. They may limit coverage, be excluded from coverage, or even prevent you from being approved for a policy; however, the exact definition and relevant limitations or exclusions of coverage will vary with each plan, so check a specific plan’s official plan documents to understand how that plan handles pre-existing conditions.

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