Important Tips When Switching Medicare Supplement Insurance Policies

There are many reasons why you may want to switch your current Medicare Supplement insurance policy.  Maybe you’re paying for benefits you don’t need, or, you need more benefits now than when you first joined. Sometimes, you need to change insurance companies or you simply want a less expensive commitment.

Whatever your reason for switching Medicare Supplement insurance policies, there area few important things to keep in mind that can help you make the change easily and conveniently. Here are four important tips to help you switch policies effortlessly.

Know When You Can Switch Medicare Supplement insurance Policies

Regardless if you’ve already made the decision to switch your policy, you can’t unless certain conditions apply. To switch your Medicare Supplement insurance policy, you must:

  • Have a guaranteed issue right or be eligible under a specific circumstance OR
  • Be within your Medicare Supplement insurance open enrollment period

Your unique Medicare Supplement insurance open enrollment period lasts for six months, starting when you first sign up for Part B and are at least 65 years old. During this time, you have a guaranteed issue right to buy any Medicare Supplement insurance policy sold in your state without being turned down or being charged more because of a pre-existing health condition. If you already have a Medicare Supplement insurance policy and you are within your six-month open enrollment period, you can switch to another plan without any restrictions.

Note: as soon as your Medicare Supplement insurance open enrollment period ends, your guaranteed issue right ends too,and you may not be able to buy another policy. If you have health concerns, be sure to pay close attention to these dates. Your enrollment period is the best time to buy or switch if you are dissatisfied with your current plan.

Guaranteed Issue Rights May Be Available to You Outside of Your Enrollment Period

There are some exceptions to the rule, and other times when you may have a guaranteed issue right to buy or switch a Medicare Supplement insurance policy outside of your open enrollment period. For instance, if your current plan misleads you or isn’t compliant with the law, you can usually switch policies with no restriction. Or, if the insurance company providing your plan declares bankruptcy, you can switch to a new Medicare Supplement insurance policy. In some cases, if you drop a Medicare Supplement insurance policy to buy a Medicare Advantage plan, but don’t like it, you have up to a year to switch back to a Medicare Supplement insurance policy with a guaranteed issue right.

You Can Take a “Free Look” at a New Medicare Supplement Insurance Policy Before Committing 

You have 30 days to decide if you want to keep a new Medicare Supplement insurance policy. This “free look” period starts when you first get your new policy and ends 30 days after. If you wish to exercise your free look, do not cancel your old policy until you are certain you want to keep the new one. You will be responsible for paying both premiums for one month if you choose to take a free look.

Compare Your Old Policy With Your New Policy Carefully Before Switching

Medicare Supplement insurance policies have changed significantly in the past few years. Policies sold prior to January 1, 2006 included prescription drug benefits. New policies do not. Some plans are no longer offered at all. If you have an older policy and you are looking to switch, know that you may not be able to carry these benefits over to a new policy.

There may also be new benefits that may not have been available when you first purchased Medicare Supplement insurance. For example, many new policies are guaranteed renewable, or offer lower premiums for similar coverage. Be sure to look closely at benefits and cost if you are looking to switch your Medicare Supplement insurance. Note: if you have an older policy that is no longer available and you decide to cancel it, you cannot get it back. 

 

Resources: 

https://www.medicare.gov/supplement-other-insurance/when-can-i-buy-medigap/switching-plans/switch-medigap-.html

https://www.medicare.gov/supplement-other-insurance/when-can-i-buy-medigap/guaranteed-issue-rights-scenarios.html

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