If you haven’t compared Medigap rates in a few years, the amount you could save may surprise you
Enrolling in a Medicare supplement plan (Medigap) is an easy way to make your healthcare faster, easier, and even more affordable. But just because you found a Medigap plan that you like doesn’t mean that you can forget about it.
Here’s the thing: Medigap rates are changing all the time, as are your medical needs as you get older. Switching Medicare supplement plans helps ensure that you’re never paying more than you need to.
Why it might be a good idea to switch to a different Medigap plan
As you know, your Medigap insurance plan is not actually Medicare. It’s a type of add-on coverage that is designed to fill the “gaps” of Parts A & B. In other words, Medicare supplement plans cover the things that Medicare doesn’t.
But because Medigap plans are offered by insurance companies, they’re subject to the same fluctuating rates as traditional health insurance. If their enrollment levels drop, or they suddenly get a lot of claims, it could make your premium go up.
This is the biggest reason why someone would want to change Medigap plans. To make sure they’re still getting the best rates, even if the actual coverage is the same.
Changing Medicare supplement plans: A quick guide
Still not sure if you should switch Medicare supplement plans? Here are some of the most common questions that we get about changing Medigap plans:
What are the reasons to switch Medicare supplement plans?
As we mentioned above, one of the primary reasons that people switch Medigap plans is because of rising premiums. But there are other reasons to change supplement plans, including:
- You’re not happy with your Medigap insurance company for any reason
- Your premiums have become too expensive and you’re trying to lower your monthly expenses
- Your current Medigap plan has coverage that you don’t use and you no longer want to pay for
- You have new health or medical needs and require more coverage than you used to
When is the best time to enroll in Medigap?
For most people, the best time to enroll in Medigap is during your Open Enrollment Period. This is a 6-month period that begins on your 65th birthday (As long as you are enrolled in Medicare Part B).
During your Medigap Open Enrollment, you can sign up for any Medigap plan with guaranteed issue. This means that you can’t be turned down or charged higher premiums because of pre-existing health conditions.
When is the best time to change Medigap / Medicare supplement plans?
If you’re still inside your Open Enrollment Period (< 6 months of your 65th birthday) you can switch to any other Medigap plan with guaranteed issue.
If you’re older than 65 ½, you can actually enroll in Medigap or switch plans at any time. However, you could now be subject to medical underwriting in order to qualify. That means that the insurance company can consider your health condition and medical records with your application. In some cases this means much higher premiums … in others it means that you might not be accepted.
Can I change Medicare supplement plans during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?
You can change your Medicare supplement plan at any time of year, though your application could be subject to medical underwriting.
The Medicare Annual Enrollment period is when you can change Part D prescription plans or Medicare Advantage Plans. The Annual Enrollment Period does not apply to Medigap.
What is the Medicare supplement “free look period?”
When you change your Medicare supplement plans, you can get a “free look period” before making the commitment. This means that you can spend 30 days with the new policy, without losing your current Medigap plan for good.
The catch: You have to stay enrolled in your current Medigap plan for the 30-day period. That means that you’ll be paying double premiums for one month. If you like your new plan, you can cancel your old policy in writing, based on your plan’s instructions. (But once you cancel your old Medigap plan, you won’t be able to get it back without medical underwriting).
If you decide to stick with your current plan, no problem. Your free look period will expire and your new plan will no longer be active.
How can I get “guaranteed issue rights” after the Medigap Enrollment Period?
If you are older than 65 ½ and need to change Medigap plans, your current health could be factored into your new rates and plan options. But there are some exceptions to this, in which you can get a new Medigap plan with guaranteed issue (no medical underwriting).
The exceptions include:
- If your Medigap insurance company goes bankrupt, commits fraud, or causes you to lose coverage through no fault of your own
- You’re currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, and that plan is being discontinued or you are moving outside of the service area
- You’ve recently switched from Medigap to Medicare Advantage, and you want to change back within the first year
- You’ve moved to an area where your old plan is not available
These are only a few examples. If you need help finding a Medigap plan with guaranteed issue, talk to your Personal Benefits Manager.
We Know Medicare Supplement Plans
At MediGap Advisors, we know everything there is to know about Medicare, Medigap, and Medicare supplements. If you need help finding better coverage, lower rates, or some new retirement strategies, we’ll be your friendly, licensed guides.
You can call 800-913-3416 to speak to your Personal Benefits Manager. You can also click here to compare Medicare supplement plans online.
Here are some additional articles on Medigap programs: When to Sign Up for a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage Plan | Mastering Your Medical Savings Account: What Can an MSA Pay For?
Tom Lockwood is a Personal Benefits Manager at MediGap Advisors. Tom has a passion for bringing clarity to those confused about Medicare. He is an authority on Medicare, Medicare supplement plans, Medicare Advantage plans, and Part D prescription drug plans. Read more about Tom on his Bio page.