When Can I Change My Medicare Supplement Plan?
You typically don’t have a right under Federal law to change Medicare Supplement (MS) Plans after your 6-month Open Enrollment Period, which starts the first month after you begin receiving Part B benefits and are 65 or older. During Open Enrollment, federal law guarantees that insurance companies can’t deny you a plan or charge you more because of your current or past health.
Just because you don’t have a right under Federal law to buy a MS Plan, also referred to as Medigap, it doesn’t mean you can’t change plans. It just means that a Medigap insurance company may charge you more or deny you a plan based on your health. You may also need to answer medical questions when applying for these plans. You can still try to apply for a different plan any time throughout the year.
Outside of Open Enrollment, you may have other guaranteed issue rights to buy a Supplement Plan if you are in a certain situation that affects your coverage, like you’ve moved outside of your plan’s service area. We will discuss specific Federal guarantee issue rights below.
When do you have a Federal right to change your Supplement Plan?
It’s much easier, and typically less expensive, to change Medigap plans if you have a guaranteed-issue right to do so. If you are in any of the following situations, you may have the right to change to a Medigap Plan A, B, C, F, K or L from any insurance company.
- You have a Medicare SELECT plan and Part A and B, but you move out of your SELECT plan’s service area.
- Your current Medigap company goes bankrupt and you lose your coverage.
- Your current Medigap coverage ends through no fault of your own.
- You leave your Medigap policy because your company has broken the rules or misled you.
In all of these circumstances, you must sign up for the new policy no later than 63 days after the date your old coverage ends.
Your state may have additional guaranteed issue rights. You can find specific Supplement information for your state here.
If you change Medigap plans and you don’t like your new one, you can drop it within 30 days after your new policy starts. This is called your “free-look period”.
Why you may want to switch plans
If you’re satisfied with your plan, it’s best to stick with it. Changing plans without a guaranteed issue right can prove difficult and be more costly. If your plan no longer meets your healthcare needs or is too costly, you may want to consider switching. Here are a few common reasons why people switch plans:
- You want to find a policy with a lower premium.
- You are paying for benefits that you don’t use.
- You want to find a plan with additional benefits.
- You are unhappy with your current insurance company.
Do you have to switch plans if you move to another state?
You can typically keep your Medigap policy if you move to another state, as long as you’re still enrolled in Part A and Part B. Since the 10 Medigap plans are standardized across the country, your plan should remain the same no matter where you move. Be sure to speak with your plan provider before you move to ensure that you can keep your policy.
Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin offer plans that are different from the 10 standard plans, so you will want to check with your plan if you are moving to one of these states.
SELECT plans are different. If you move to another state and have this type of plan, you can either switch to a standardized Supplement policy with the same or fewer benefits as your current plan from the same insurance company, or you can switch to a new plan from a different insurance company. If you choose to do the latter, you have a guaranteed issue right to purchase Plan A, B, C, F, K, or L from any insurance company in the state you are moving to.