Can You Change Your Medicare Supplement Anytime?

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New Medicare beneficiaries often wonder: Can you change your Medicare Supplement anytime? And if so, do you have to answer health questions? The answer is: usually yes you must answer health questions to change your Medicare supplement but there are some states with exceptions.

When you first become eligible for Medicare Part B, most states offer you an open enrollment window of 6 months. During this period, you can enroll in a Medicare supplement plan without having to pass health underwriting. This means that the Medigap carrier cannot decline you for coverage due to any health conditions.

In most states, this window occurs only once. Later on, if you wish to shop your insurance for better benefits or more competitive rates, you generally will have to pass medical health underwriting to change. The new insurance carrier could decline your application for coverage if they feel you represent too much medical risk.
People are confused by this because each year they see lots of advertising in the fall about the Annual Election Period (AEP). The AEP runs from October 15th to December 7th. This advertising makes them think that they can just wait until the fall if they want to change their Medigap plan without hassle.

However, the AEP only applies to Medicare Advantage plans and Part D drug plans. There is no annual election period that pertains to Medigap.

Some states, however, have special windows that allow you to apply without medical health underwriting. For example, in California and Oregon, have a birthday rule. You have a 30-day window around your birthday each year where you can switch your coverage to another insurance company. To find out if any special rules apply in your state, contact a Boomer Benefits licensed agent about switching your Medicare supplement plan today.
Once you are enrolled in a Medicare supplement plan, you can change that plan any time of year. However, most people only change when there is a motive to do so. Usually, this occurs in the form of a rate increase. Nearly all Medicare supplements will have a rate increase each year on your policy anniversary.

The reason for this is twofold. First, Medicare often increases the Part A deductible and the skilled nursing coinsurance and several other items that your supplement pays for you. So the supplement rates go up to cover this.

Second, there is ordinary healthcare inflation, which means that the cost of everything your Medicare supplement covers is going up all the time.

Here at Boomer Benefits we shop our client's policies every year to see if there is any chance to gain lower premiums by changing. As long as you can pass the medical underwriting, you can change anytime you like.

Can You Change from Medigap to Medicare Advantage anytime?

You can change from Medigap to Medicare Advantage during the annual fall election period from October 15th to December 7th. This period allows you to enroll in, change, or dis-enroll from Advantage plans. You must stay enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, and you must live in the plan's service area. There is only 1 health question on the Medicare Advantage plan application about End Stage Renal Disease.

Once you are approved for your Medicare Advantage plan, be sure that you cancel your Medigap coverage since you cannot have both at one time. Keep in mind that late to get back into a Medigap plan later on down the road, you will have to answer health questions and go through medical underwriting.

Grab the Medicare Elections Period Mini-Guide here:

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Can You Change Your Medicare Supplement Anytime?

 

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30 thoughts on “Can You Change Your Medicare Supplement Anytime?

    • It depends on the state you live in. Some states require insurance carriers to offer at least one Medigap plan to people under 65 which Medicare. However, some states don’t have this rule. Also, Medigap plans for people under 65 can be quite expensive. That’s why many people under 65 with Medicare choose Medicare Advantage and then switch to Medigap at 65. https://boomerbenefits.com/medigap-under-age-65/

    • @Boomer Benefits Thank you. I subscribe, watch, and like all the Boomer Benefits videos from the Golden Isles on the coast of GA.

  1. This is the primary reason I do not plan on getting a medigap plan. You might choose the perfect supplement for you at age 65, but in a few years, its price may have gone crazy and you are likely trapped.

    • You’re not always trapped. If you find that the increase is too much, you can always get out and go back to Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan. It’s easier to go from Medigap to Medicare Advantage than it is from Medicare Advantage to Medigap.

  2. It sounds like this is talking about switching from plan to plan (e.g., Plan G to H or something like that). Does it also apply if I want to change carriers using the same plan designation (e.g., change from Aetna with Plan G to another carrier with Plan G?

    • All the rules are the same whether you’re switching plans or switching carriers. Ultimately, when you switch carriers, you’re switching plans too even though you’re staying with the same letter.

  3. Danielle, does an AA medigap premium increase for health inflation AND your age on the anniversary of your contract or does it increase twice/year–once for age and once again for inflation?

    • Yes there are a few carriers that may have increases more than once per year but most only allow increases once a year upon your policy anniversary. Some plans are attained age plans which can increase twice a year (once due to inflation, and once due to your birthday), but again, it all depends on the carrier and most have now changed the rules to only allowing one increase per year. Learn more here: https://boomerbenefits.com/attained-age-vs-issue-age-medigap-policies/

    • You’re thinking of the Initial Enrollment Period that is three months before your birthday month, the month of your birthday and three months after. That is for Part A, B, D, and C. The 6 month open enrollment window that starts the day your Part B is effective is your Medigap open enrollment period.

  4. If I decide to change medigap plans, is it correct that in the month that the change is made I will have a double payment. One payment for the current plan I am on and another payment for the new plan?

    • You shouldn’t. When you apply to change plans, your old plan will continue to be active until the end of the month, even after you’ve notified them you’re cancelling it. Your new plan will become effective the 1st of the following month. You always want to wait for your new plan’s approval before terminating the old plan.

      Now, your new premium may be drafted upon approval of your new plan. However, that premium will be for the next months coverage.

  5. Wish we had a nickle for every time we have had this question over the years. Too many election periods really confuse people!

  6. Since plan F will be discontinued starting in 2020, do you think Plan F-HD will go up significantly in Florida?

    • We don’t know what will happen with premiums. They could have normal rate increases since anyone who gets it from 2020 on will have to answer health questions. If they are approved that means they are healthy.

  7. If I initially enroll in Plan G by United HealthCare in North Carolina, then move to Florida and continue with Plan G by United HealthCare in Florida, am I subject to underwriting questions?

    • Nearly every Medigap plan’s premium goes up every year due to inflation. If you have an attained age policy your premium could go up twice, once due to inflation and once due to your birthday.

  8. I just went on Medicare in May and I chose a dental, vision and hearing benefit plan (it was the only one offered to me by Boomer Benefits). Since I have received the information on the plan, I have discovered some things I wasn’t told about it and I don’t think it is worth what I am paying. Can I cancel it at any time?

  9. Well explained. If a person has been on maintenance medication (for years) for conditions such as COPD, Congestive Heart Failure, and Cardiomyopathy, would that likely prevent the option of changing Supplement Plans?

  10. Do rates go up if you answer yes to chronic illness or are you simply just disapproved? What is the threshold of the underwriter to say yes or no or yes but it will cost more since you have theses certain illnesses.

    • It depends on the carrier and the illness. If you answer yes to certain illnesses, you may just be denied, where other illnesses may just give you a higher premium.

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