If you did your homework after signing up for Original Medicare and purchased a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) policy, over time you may be wondering if you got the best bang for the buck. If you’re satisfied with your current plant and the company or agent is responding to service requests, your best bet is to let it ride as long as the pricing and service meet your expectations.
But, if you’re not completely satisfied with your current coverage or costs, you may want to consider making a change. The more typical reasons that policyholders might be dissatisfied with a particular plan or company are:
- You feel you are paying for some benefits that you’ll likely never need.
- You’ve found over time that you need additional benefits that you didn’t purchase.
- The insurance company hasn’t met your service expectations.
- You simply want to save some money on your health insurance.
You may also want to switch policy types or move to a different insurer because you qualify for the guaranteed issue right because of:
- You will be losing coverage because your carrier is going out of business.
- You have found out that your insurer is committing fraud.
- You discovered that the insurance company misled you about coverages or pricing.
Am I Allowed to Switch or Not?
Generally, you won’t be able to switch Medicare Supplement plans unless you are still within the open enrollment period (OEP) or you qualify for the guaranteed issue right because of one or more of the reasons stated above.
This is not etched in stone. If your state has more liberal or generous rules or an insurance company is willing to sell you a different Medigap policy, you may be able to make a change. But remember, if you don’t have the guaranteed issue right, or you are not within the open enrollment period, your application will typically be subject to medical underwriting and you could easily pay more for the new policy.
What if I Switch Plans and then I don’t Like the New One?
In this case, you have the right to a free-look. This means that if in the first thirty days after you switched from one plan to another and you are not satisfied with the new plan, you can return to the old plan as long as you haven’t canceled it. This means that you should not cancel the old policy unless you are completely sure you want to keep the new one.
If you decide to stay with the new policy, simply contact your agent or the insurance company and ask them to send you a cancel request form.
If I have an old Medicare Supplement Plan, Do I have to Switch?
If you still have one of the older Medicare Supplement plans that were around before in 1992 when the Medicare standardized the plans, you can keep it if you want to. And, if you had purchased a Plan D or Plan G prior to June 1, 2010, you can keep that plan as well.
It’s important to understand, however, that if you choose to buy a new policy, you won’t be able to switch back if the once the older one is canceled. It’s also important to note that if the new standardized policy has a benefit that wasn’t in the older one, you have a six-month waiting period before the new benefit will take effect.
What if I move to another State?
If you move to a different state, you’ll be able to hang on to the Medicare Supplement plan you currently have as long as you are still enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. If, however, you decide to switch to a different plan, you are going to have to check with your insurer and find out if they’ll offer a different plan. If they agree to offer a different plan, you might have to pay a higher premium for the new policy and have to answer underwriting questions if it is outside of your open enrollment period.
If you purchased a Medicare Select Plan to save some money (policies that may require you to use certain providers), and then move out of the plan’s service area, you have the following choices:
- Change to a standardized Medicare Supplement plan from the insurance company you have now. The policy has to offer the same benefits or fewer benefits than Medicare Select plan you have now.
- Switch to a new Medicare Supplement plan from a different insurer. You will have a guaranteed issue right to purchase a Medicare Supplement Plan A, B, C, F, K, or L from any other insurance carrier that offers them in your state.
The Bottom Line
No doubt, making changes to your Medicare Supplement insurance can be confusing. Hopefully, we haven’t made it more confusing by filling you in on the rules about how to switch Medicare Supplement plans. It’s important that you know you can make changes if you are not satisfied with your plan’s benefits, pricing, or customer service.
The better choice to make is really quite simple. Ask a Medicare Supplement Professional! The licensed agents at MedicareTalk.com know their way around Medicare Supplement Insurance and Medicare Advantage Plans. We are an experienced and reputable independent brokerage that will guide you through the change process or the purchase process while making certain that you follow the rules and don’t the mistake of having a lapse in coverage.
We understand the enrollment rules and the rules about switching plans and we do not charge you for our advice, for shopping coverage, or service issues.