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Can You Switch Between Medicare Supplement Plans?

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Medicare Supplement plans, also known as Medigap, are designed to fill “gaps” in Original Medicare coverage. Medigap policies cost an additional monthly premium, but they can offer coverage for copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, and other healthcare costs not covered under Medicare.

There is a one-time initial open enrollment window with Medigap. The window opens when you turn 65 or enroll in Medicare Part B (whichever comes later) and lasts six months. During this time, you can buy any Medigap plan, and an insurance company cannot decline your request for health reasons.

Once your initial open enrollment window closes, you can still change your Medigap plan. In fact, you can apply to change your Medigap policy at any time of year. However, most states require a medical underwriting review before you switch from one Medigap policy to another.


What Is Medical Underwriting?

Medical underwriting involves an evaluation of your medical history. Insurers can use underwriting to decide if they will provide Medicare Supplement coverage, what premium to charge, and if a waiting period will be required before coverage begins.

Those who apply for a Medigap plan during their open enrollment window won’t have to worry about medical underwriting. At this time, you only need to be enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A or Part B, to qualify for Medigap coverage.

Comparatively, medical underwriting is usually required if you apply for a Medigap plan after your open enrollment window or want to change your coverage.

That means applying for a Medicare Supplement plan after your open enrollment period and after being diagnosed with an illness can lead to higher premiums or even being denied coverage. Purchasing a Medigap plan during your initial enrollment period or while in good health is the best way to ensure you’re able to get the Medigap plan you want.


Should You Switch Between Medicare Supplement Plans?

There are four reasons to consider switching between Medicare Supplement plans:

  1. You are paying for benefits you don’t need.
  2. You need benefits that aren’t included in your current plan.
  3. You want to change your insurance company.
  4. You want to lower your Medigap costs.

You don’t need to wait a certain length of time before you change your Medigap policy. As soon as you buy your plan, you are eligible to change it.


How to Change Your Medicare Supplement Plan

To change your Medicare Supplement plan, contact your insurance company. Then, you can apply for a new policy.

After your application for new coverage is approved, you’ll need to cancel your current policy. Your insurer can explain how to end your coverage. You shouldn’t cancel your current policy until you are sure you are being covered by the new policy.

Once you start your new Medigap coverage, you have 30 days to decide whether or not to keep your policy. This “free look period” begins the day you start your new plan. Regardless of whether you move forward with your new plan or your prior one, notify your insurer accordingly before your free look period ends.

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