Should I Consider Switching Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans?
There can be good reasons to consider changing Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance plans if you can find another insurer that’s willing to sell you a policy. Unlike other types of Medicare coverage, you can join or switch Medigap plans any time the plan is taking new members and will accept your enrollment.
However, you’ll usually have fewer options available if you switch plans after your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, the six-month period when you’re first eligible for Medicare Supplement insurance. During your Open Enrollment Period, you can join any plan with guaranteed issue, meaning Medigap insurers must sell you a policy and can’t charge you a higher premium for health reasons. After this period, you may have trouble finding an insurer that will sell you a plan, especially if you have pre-existing conditions*.
If you do decide to switch plans, know that your Medigap coverage may cost more, and the plan may require medical underwriting. Also, keep in mind that if you switch Medigap plans and change your mind, you may not be able to get your old plan back.
Reasons to switch Medigap plans
That being said, there are certain situations where you might consider changing Medigap plans; you could even have guaranteed-issue rights in some circumstances. Some reasons include:
You’re unhappy with your Medigap insurance company. There are 10 Medigap plans available in most states, and coverage is standardized, meaning that plans of the same letter provide the same benefits, regardless of insurer. If you’re dissatisfied with your Medigap insurer and can find another insurance company that sells your current plan, you may want to switch plans and get the same benefits you currently have.
Your health needs have changed. If you’re in good health, you may want to switch to a Medicare Supplement insurance plan with more basic coverage, so that you’re not paying for benefits you’re not using. Or, conversely, your health may have declined recently, and you may want to switch to a Medigap plan with more comprehensive coverage.
Your financial situation has changed. If your finances have changed, you may want to switch to a plan with a less expensive premium, especially since benefits are standardized for the same plans. Keep in mind that Medigap plans use different methods for pricing plan premiums. Some base premiums on your current age, meaning the premium cost increases with your age. Other insurers base the premium on your age when you enroll, while others charge all plan members the same premium, no matter how old they are. Always ask the Medicare Supplement insurer which pricing method it uses so you know how much you’ll pay both now and in the future.
You have a Medicare SELECT plan and moved out of the plan’s service area. Medicare SELECT plans are a type of Medigap plan that may require you to use certain provider networks to be covered. If you move out of your Medicare SELECT plan’s coverage area, you can switch to a Medigap Plan A, B, C, F, K, or L sold by any company in your new location that is licensed to sell the Medigap policy, no later than 63 calendar days after your coverage ends.
Your Medigap insurance company goes out of business. If you lose your Medigap plan because the insurer goes bankrupt, you have a guaranteed-issue right to join another Medicare Supplement insurance plan. You can join a Medigap Plan A, B, C, F, K, or L sold by any company in your state that is licensed to sell the Medigap policy, no later than 63 calendar days after your coverage ends.
Your Medigap insurance company committed fraud. If your Medicare Supplement insurer misled you, you have a guaranteed-issue right to change Medigap plans. You can switch to a Medigap Plan A, B, C, F, K, or L sold by any company in your state that is licensed to sell the Medigap policy, no later than 63 calendar days after your coverage ends.
There are other situations when you may have guaranteed issue rights; check with Medicare (contact information below) or your health insurance plan.
If you’re thinking of changing Medicare Supplement insurance plans, you can wait to drop your first policy while you decide which plan to keep. You have a right to try out your new Medigap policy for 30 days before dropping your original plan–or going back to your first policy if you’re not satisfied. This is known as your free-look period. You must pay both plan premiums for that month and state in your Medigap application that you’ll cancel the first Medigap plan after 30 days. After the first month, you can drop the Medigap plan you don’t want.
Need help finding a Medicare Supplement insurance plan? You can get in touch with one of eHealth’s licensed insurance agents – just use the contact information below.
* 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.