Changing Your Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) Plan
Medicare supplement insurance (a.k.a. Medigap) plans are an important – and for millions of people, essential – way to offset the ever-rising costs of health care that aren’t covered by original Medicare, such as co-payments, co-insurance, excess out-of-pocket costs, foreign travel emergency bills, and more.
However, there is some confusion around changing Medigap plans – especially in light of eligibility requirements and various plan terms and conditions. The remainder of this article clarifies this confusion and gives you a basic understanding of what you need to know.
To begin with, it’s helpful to highlight some of the common reasons why you may want to switch your Medigap plan in the first place. These reasons include:
- The number 1 reason is to save money, Medigap carriers raise rate typically once a year.
- Requiring more coverage than is currently provided by an existing plan.
- Having more coverage than is required, and as such paying for unnecessary benefits.
- A desire to change insurance companies (but not necessarily change one’s plan)
However, keep in mind that switching may not always be in your best interest to you if your current plan covers your prescriptions. For example, unlike the past, there are no current Medigap plans that offer 100% prescription drug coverage. You could lose this important coverage as a result of switching, now keep in mind that you will still have access to a standalone part D that over 90% of individuals have.
Generally, you’re only eligible to purchase a “guaranteed issue” Medigap plan during your open enrolment period, which starts the first month after you turn 65 and have Medicare Part B. Guaranteed issue means that your insurance company must:
- sell you the Medigap policy that you wish
- cover 100% of your pre-existing health conditions
- cannot charge you higher premiums based on your medical history
However, if you wish to switch your Medigap coverage, this guaranteed issue right no longer applies except in cases where:
- your insurance company has exited your service area, thereby forcing you to switch insurance companies
- you move away from your Medigap plan’s service area
- you change your Medigap plan within 6 months of your open enrolment period
How to Switch
Provided that switching your Medigap plan is in your best interest, and you’re eligible to do so, call your current or (if you wish to change) new insurance company, and inform them that you wish to apply for a new Medigap plan. Then, complete the application. This can often be done securely the web, or over the phone when speaking with a licensed advisor.
If your application is accepted, then you’ll have 30 days to evaluate the new Medigap plan and see if it fits your needs. This is called the “free look period.” While you’ll have to pay two premiums for this month (i.e. the premium for your original Medigap plan, plus the premium for your new Medigap plan), it’s well worth the nominal investment.
After the 30 days, if you decide that you’re happy with the new Medigap plan, then call your insurance company (your old one if you’re changing companies, or your existing one if you aren’t) and tell them that you want to cancel your old Medigap plan.
Or, if you decide that you’re not happy with the new Medigap plan, inform your insurance company and the policy will be cancelled. Your old (existing) policy will still be in effect and you won’t experience a disruption in coverage or be forced to re-apply, and risk losing your guaranteed issue rights.
Getting the Answers you Need
As you can see, switching your Medigap plan is a major decision and it’s critical that you get the facts you need to make an informed decision – especially since, even with the “free look period,” there may be instances where switching isn’t in your best interest.
What’s more, with so many Medigap plans to choose from, you want to focus on the one that fits both your needs and budget; or else you could find yourself facing a surprising, or even shocking health care bill down the road.
To get the answer and information you need, contact our experienced, caring and licensed advisors at (855) 321-3210, or email us at email@example.com. We’re here to help!