Changing Medicare Supplement Plans
The best time for you to sign up for a Medicare Supplement plan, also called Medigap, is when you turn 65 and are covered under Medicare Part B. This six-month period, known as your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, typically starts on your 65th birthday if youre already enrolled in Part B. During this period, youre guaranteed acceptance into any Medicare Supplement plan available in your area without submitting to a complete medical review or being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. If you choose not to get Medicare Part B right away, then your Medigap Open Enrollment Period may also be delayed and will start automatically once youre at least 65 and have Part B.
Your health status when enrolling in a Medigap plan can play an important role in which Medigap plan you choose, and your age at the time may determine how much you pay for it.
Like anything else, your needs are subject to change, so the plan you originally chose may not cover all of your needs for the rest of your life. There are numerous reasons for switching Medicare Supplement plans some common ones are described below.
Learn About Medicare Supplement Plans Available Where You Live
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The purpose of this communication is the solicitation of insurance. Callers will be directed to a licensed insurance agent with TZ Insurance Solutions LLC, TruBridge, Inc. and/or a third-party partner who can provide more information about Medicare Advantage Plans offered by one or several Medicare-contracted carrier. TZ Insurance Solutions LLC, TruBridge, Inc., and the licensed sales agents that may call you are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. Government or the federal Medicare program.
Plan availability varies by region and state. For a complete list of available plans, please contact 1-800-MEDICARE , 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov.
Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.
When You Need To Change Your Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan
In some situations, you may not be able to keep your current coverage if youre moving. Medicare SELECT plans are a type of Medicare Supplement insurance plan that requires you to use providers in the plans network to be covered. If you have a Medicare SELECT plan and move out of the plans service area, you have a guaranteed-issue right to buy any Medicare Supplement insurance Plan A, B, C, F, K, or L that is offered by an insurance company in your new state.
If this applies to you, youll need to contact your Medicare SELECT insurance company to drop your current plan and enroll in a different Medigap plan. You can do so as early as 60 days before your coverage ends, or no later than 63 days after your coverage ends. Make sure to contact your Medicare SELECT company before you move to avoid a lapse in coverage.
If you have any questions about how moving may affect your current Medicare Supplement insurance coverage, an eHealth licensed insurance agent can help you figure out your options. Contact eHealth today at the phone number listed below to learn more.
**Medicare Supplement Plans C and F wont be sold to beneficiaries who are new to Medicare as of January 1, 2020. You wont be able to buy either plan if you qualify for Medicare on that date or later. You can keep Plan C or Plan F if you already have one. Also, if you qualify for Medicare before January 1, 2020, you can still apply for one of these plans.
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When Can I Change My Medicare Supplement Plan
Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to parts of their Medicare coverage including their Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans during Medicares Annual Enrollment Period which takes place every year from October 15th to December 7th.
However, Medicare Supplement Insurance plans are not part of this enrollment period. Typically, you wont have a right to switch to a different Medigap policy at any point unless youre still within your six-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period or youre eligible under a specific circumstance, or guaranteed issue right, if your health insurance plan changes or no longer offers you coverage.
What Is A Free
You also can get a tryout month with your new policy if you like, called the free-look period. Be aware, its not free. People must pay for both policies that month until they decide at the end of 30 days whether to leave the old policy and stay with the new one, according to the governments Medicare website on changing Medigap plans.
Several states California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, and Oregon have more generous rules on switching Medigap plans, according to Boston Colleges Center for Retirement Research.4 California, for example, allows Medigap policy owners to shop for new coverage each year without fear of being rejected for medical reasons. This happens during the 30 days immediately after their birthday without a medical screening or a new waiting period. The new policy must have the same or fewer benefits than the old policy.
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An Alphabet Of Medigap Policies
Across the nation, there is a confusing array of 10 Medigap policies offering different levels of coverage. To compare them, you can read this article on MedicareGuide.com or look at the chart below.
Keep in mind that Plan C and Plan F are no longer available to newly eligible beneficiaries buying Medigap policies after January 1, 2020. Plan G is the closest to Plan F, which has offered the most comprehensive coverage. Plan G, though, does not cover the Part B deductible.
Some of the plans C, D, F, G, M, and N cover skilled nursing facilities two dont at all and two others cover a percentage. Only Plans F and G cover Part B excess charges. Plans K and L come with out-of-pocket limits for the beneficiary before they pick up full expenses.
What Is A Guaranteed Issue Right
Here are some of the circumstances that might entitle you to guaranteed issue rights:3
- You have coverage through a group health plan that paid secondary to Medicare but ends for no reasons that are your fault.
- You are quitting a Medicare Advantage plan within 12 months of enrolling in it, assuming it was the plan you first joined after becoming eligible for Medicare at age 65. Medicare Advantage plans are inclusive plans sponsored by private insurance companies that provide all Part A and Part B benefits, and usually include prescription drug coverage and other benefits.
- The insurance company that issued your previous plans stops offering coverage or commits fraud.
In other situations, if you no longer have a guaranteed issue right, you can apply for the Medigap policy of your choice, but with restrictions you had not faced before. At this point, insurance companies can require medical screenings and raise your rates based on your health situation rather than offering you the best available rate, or they can refuse to sell you a policy altogether.
Be especially aware that in January 2020, insurers can no longer offer to newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries policies that include coverage for the Part B deductible. Those plans? Plan C and Plan F. Those who stay with their previous plans can keep that benefit.
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Change Medicare Plans During Annual Election Period
If you want to change Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans , the best time to do so is during the Annual Election Period , which runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. During that period, you can:
Change from Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, to a Medicare Advantage plan. Change from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another. Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan that doesnt offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage plan that does. Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan that offers drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage plan that doesnt. Switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another.
When you change Medicare plans during the Annual Election Period, your new coverage begins on January 1 of the following year.
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How Do I Switch Medicare Supplement Plans
Are you among the thousands of seniors who have a Medicare Supplement plan? If so, you may face rate increases at some point, and consider changing to a more affordable plan. However, if youre happy with your current plan, you should typically stay with your plan. You can stay with a plan as long as the coverage and insurance company continue to meet your needs.
For example, some people decide to switch plans because:
- They are paying for benefits they dont need,
- Theyre in need of a more comprehensive plan, potentially one that additional benefits,
- They are not satisfied with the company they purchased their supplement from, or
- They want to find a more affordable policy.
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When To Sign Up For Medicare
As you approach age 65, its important to know which enrollment deadlines apply to your circumstances. Begin by checking on your eligibility. To avoid costly penalties and gaps in coverage, most people should for Medicare Part A and Part B in the seven-month window that starts three months before the month you turn 65 and runs for another three months following your 65th birthday.
If you currently get Social Security, you will be automatically enrolled if not, you need to sign up either online or at your Social Security office.
Switching Medigap Plans: A Complete Guide
Switching your Medicare Supplement plan is fairly easy, but knowing whether you should switch to another Medigap plan or keep your current one is a different story. Factor in the crucial element of switching at the right time, and youve got some research to do before you actually change your Medigap plan.
But dont let that discourage you. This guide will explain step by step whether you should consider switching, when you should switch, and how to change your Medigap plan.
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What Is The Deadline For Changing Medicare Supplement Plans
There is no deadline, the only restrictions on changing Medicare Supplement plans are that the applicant may have guaranteed issue again. This is extremely important to those with pre-existing conditions. If the carrier requires you to undergo the medical underwriting process, you could be denied coverage and not be able to get it back on your comprehensive plans coverage.
Just because you think you cant change plans, doesnt mean its impossible. Working with an insurance agent, they will be able to tell you the best possible solution for your situation.
There are some situations that force you to cancel your Medicare Supplement plan and only keep Medicare or Medicare Advantage. But, you should be aware that the chances of getting the Medigap coverage back once you cancel are minimal.
Some companies may provide coverage under specific conditions after cancellation, although that may be impossible if you already have a pre-existing condition.
Ensure that you have another alternative before canceling your current plan. Remember, the cancellation of the old insurance should only happen after the start of the new insurance policy to prevent any gaps in coverage.
When Can You Change Medigap Plans
Just as you can enroll at any time of the year , you also can change Medicare Supplement plans at any time. But again, if its not during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period or if you dont have a guaranteed issue right, you must pass the providers medical underwriting process to qualify in most states.
Some states including California, Washington, Oregon, Missouri and some others allow you to change Medicare Supplement plans without going through the underwriting process.
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When Can I Change Medicare Plan Options From Medicare Advantage To Medicare Supplement
To buy a Medicare Supplement plan, you must first leave your Medicare Advantage plan and return to Medicare, Part A and Part B administered under the federal Medicare program. But heres what you need to know about changing from Medicare Advantage to Medicare Supplement:
- You can only leave your Medicare Advantage plan during certain times of the year, in most cases: during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period , or during the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Annual Election Period . There are some exceptions, such as if you move from home to an institutional setting such as a nursing home, or from an institutional setting to home. Other exceptions are noted below.
- Once youve returned to Original Medicare, you can apply for a Medicare Supplement plan anytime you want but your acceptance into a plan isnt always guaranteed. For example, if you have health problems, the insurance company can base its decision on your health history in a process known as medical underwriting. The company can decide not to sell you a plan, or to charge you more because of your health condition.
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:
Youre 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 youre 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 youre in good health, you may want to switch to a Medicare Supplement insurance plan with more basic coverage, so that youre not paying for benefits youre not using. Or, conversely, your health may have declined recently, and you may want to switch to a Medigap plan with more comprehensive coverage.
You have a Medicare SELECT plan and moved out of the plans 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 plans 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.
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Youre Moving To A City County Or State Outside Of Your Medicare Advantage Coverage Network:
- You can keep the Medigap policy if you have Original Medicare at the same time. Almost all states offer standardized plans with an equal level of coverage, except Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. If you live in one of these three states, you should contact your state’s insurance division to find out if you can switch to a new plan.
- You should also change your address with your insurance company directly, as well as talk to them about your options.
Regardless of your circumstances, if you switch from one Medigap policy to another, you will get a 30-day free look period to explore a new plan before you drop your existing plan. During this time, you will need to pay the premiums for both policies. If you like the new plan, you can then drop the original policy after this period.
When Can I Change Medicare Supplementinsurance Plans
One interesting feature of Medicare Supplement insurance 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 doesnt have to accept your application, unless you have guaranteed-issue rights.
The same is true if you want to change Medicare Supplement insurance plans.
Guaranteed-issue rights mean that when you apply for a Medicare Supplement insurance plan whether youre changing plans or buying one for the first time you cant be turned down if:
- Youre enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B, and
- Youre within your 6-month Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period . This time span starts the month youre both age 65 or older, and enrolled in Part B, or
- You have guaranteed-issue rights after your OEP, for a different reason .
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How To Change Medicare Plans
Be aware that if you want to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan and dont want to enroll in another Medicare Advantage plan, you have to notify your plan in writing. However, if you want to change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another or from one Medicare prescription drug plan to another, all you have to do is join the new plan, and you will automatically be disenrolled from the old one.
Also understand that you can generally only change Medicare plans during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, Annual Election Period, or a Special Election Period .
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