Is it possible to switch Medicare Supplement plans at any time?

Medicare Supplement change of plans

Changing your Medicare Supplement plan is possible at any time, but enrolling during specific windows may result in cost savings. It’s advisable to have the support of an insurance agent. They can assist in the process and are a valuable resource for Medicare beneficiaries because the ability to change Medigap policies at any time can be complicated.

What Are The Reasons To Change Medicare Supplement Plans?

There are several reasons why someone might want to change their Medicare Supplement insurance plan. This could be because individuals have found a plan with a lower monthly premium, need more benefits, or don’t need/want all the benefits their current plan offers. Beneficiaries may also want to switch to a plan offered by a different insurance company. However, it’s important to note that all standardized Medicare Supplement plans with the same letter name have the same basic benefits, regardless of the insurance company. The only exception is for Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, which have different standardized plans.

Therefore, it may be valuable to change the current Medigap plan to a different type, like from Plan A to Plan N, or switch to a different insurance company because offering a lower premium. Furthermore, reasons to switch include getting better rates, increasing or decreasing benefits coverage, changing insurance companies, and adjusting to match your budget. It’s important to re-evaluate the plan periodically and switch during an enrollment window for guaranteed issue rights. However, before making a change, thoroughly research the potential outcome, including benefits coverage, costs, and any associated fees.

Is There a Specific Period To Change my Medicare Supplement Plan In Missouri?

In contrast to Original Medicare, there is no nationwide annual Medigap enrollment for altering Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance.

However, Medicare Supplement plans have a 6-month Open Enrollment Period, which starts the first day of the month you turn 65 or enroll in Medicare Part B. During this period, you can choose from any of the 12 standardized plans without a medical underwriting process. This signifies that insurance companies are unable to deny your application or increase premiums based on pre-existing health issues. As a Medicare enrollee, you can switch Medigap plans at any time, but there’s no guarantee that the new insurance carrier will accept your application if you try to change outside the Open Enrollment Period. In that case, you’ll need to go through medical underwriting and the company may use your age and health history to determine approval and monthly premiums, which may result in higher costs.

However, in the state of Missouri, you have the right to switch insurance companies annually during the 30-day window before or after your policy’s anniversary date (the start date of your policy). You can call the insurance company to find out your anniversary date. If you switch to the same type of plan (e.g. Plan N) with a different company, the new insurer cannot deny coverage or impose waiting periods based on pre-existing conditions. You only need to show minimal proof, such as a renewal notice, invoice, or policy documentation, to change insurers. If you switch to a plan with fewer benefits, you may be subject to underwriting, and not all companies allow this type of switch. If you switch to a more comprehensive plan, underwriting is likely, and you may be denied coverage or face waiting periods based on pre-existing conditions. Once you receive the new policy and it meets your needs, cancel the old one.

What Are Guaranteed Issue Rights?

Guaranteed issue rights are legal protection that mandates insurance companies to provide coverage to every individual, regardless of their prior medical history or existing conditions. This implies that insurance providers cannot refuse coverage or increase premiums due to an individual’s health status. Such rights ensure that every individual can access health insurance, even if they have had health issues in the past.

In the state of Missouri, you have a guaranteed right to buy a new Medigap policy in the following situations:

  • If you enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan when you first became eligible for Medicare Part A at age 65, and switch to Original Medicare within the first year.
  • If you switched from a Medigap policy to a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Select plan within the past year and want to switch back.
  • If your Medigap policy came to an end due to circumstances beyond your control, such as the bankruptcy of your insurance company.
  • If your insurance company broke regulations or deceived you, resulting in you leaving a Medicare Advantage plan or discontinuing a Medigap policy.

You can also apply for a new Medigap policy within 63 days of your previous coverage ending in all of the above situations.

Additionally, you are eligible to purchase a new Medigap policy without any health-related restrictions if:

  • Your Medicare Advantage plan is discontinued or no longer covers your area. Note: If you switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan within a year, you still retain the right to buy a new Medigap policy.
  • You have Original Medicare and your employer-sponsored health insurance (including retiree or COBRA) or union coverage is ending.
  • If you have Original Medicare and a Medicare Select policy but relocate to a region not covered by the policy, you are eligible to make changes to it.

What is the process for changing Medicare Supplement plans?

To change Medigap plans, it’s recommended to work with a licensed insurance agent like Missouri Insurance Advisors or do your own research to compare plan options, premiums, and insurer reputation for customer satisfaction.

Also, your Medigap plan change requires you to fill out a health questionnaire and undergo a medical examination. Your application will only be approved if you are not exempt from the medical underwriting process.

After accepting a new policy, you can cancel your old plan but take advantage of the “free look” period which allows 30 days to decide if you want to keep the new policy. During this period, you’ll need to pay both old and new premiums. If you change your mind within 30 days, you can switch back without penalty, otherwise, you’ll need to reapply to change plans again.

If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding Medicare Supplement Insurance, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Missouri Insurance Advisors. We are always ready to assist you with any information you may need. Contacting the insurance company is simple, just give us a call or send a text message. Our knowledgeable and friendly  Medicare agents will be more than happy to help you.

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