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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