When Can I Cancel My Medicare Supplement Plan?
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Medicare Supplement plans are offered by private insurance companies and can help you pay for out-of-pocket costs for services covered under Original Medicare. You must pay a monthly premium for your Medicare Supplement plan, and if you find that you do not expect to use the plan’s benefits you may want to cancel your plan.
You can cancel your Medicare Supplement plan anytime by calling your insurance company. Keep in mind that when you cancel your plan, you may not be able to get it back and you may not be able to get another Medicare Supplement plan without being subjected to medical underwriting. Medical underwriting is the process in which insurance companies can use your medical history and pre-existing conditions to deny you coverage, charge you more for coverage, or impose a waiting period before coverage starts.
Canceling your Medicare Supplement plan and getting a new one
You may want to cancel your Medicare Supplement plan because you want to switch to a different plan. You can cancel the plan anytime as long as you notify your health insurance company in writing.
However, in most cases, under federal law you don’t have the right to switch Medicare Supplement plans unless you have guaranteed-issue rights to enroll in a plan, either because you’re in the 6-month window of your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, or for a different reason. Unlike Medicare Open Enrollment, which is annually from October 15 to December 7, the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period (OEP) could vary from person to person. It begins on the first day of the month in which you’re both 65 and older and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
During your Medicare Supplement OEP, an insurance company can’t deny you coverage or charge you more for coverage based on your health history. However, in some cases you might face a waiting period before coverage begins. During your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period you may be able to sign up for a plan, change your mind, cancel the plan, and sign up for another plan. You could begin research about Medicare Supplement plans before your Open Enrollment Period begins so that you are prepared to make a good choice during this time window.
Guaranteed-issue rights are the other situation where you will not be subjected to medical underwriting when applying for a Medicare Supplement plan. Guaranteed-issue rights outside of your Medicare Supplement OEP are only granted in specific circumstances, such as when you lose your health-care insurance because you move out of the plan’s service area or your insurance company goes bankrupt. If you lose your Medicare Supplement coverage because you stopped paying the plan’s premiums, you will not be given guaranteed issue to shop for a new plan.
Trying out a different Medicare Supplement plan
Outside of your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period (OEP), you may be able to take advantage of the “free look period“ to try out a different Medicare Supplement plan. This 30-day period starts when you get a new Medicare Supplement policy but don’t cancel the old one. To get the new policy, you have to promise that you’ll cancel your old policy within 30 days. You will pay the premiums for both plans for one month, so the look isn’t technically free. You may be subjected to medical underwriting when applying for the new plan outside of your Medicare Supplement OEP. If at the end of the 30 days you decide you prefer your old plan, you can keep your old plan and cancel the new plan.
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