Are you currently enrolled in a Medigap policy but thinking about making a switch? Maybe you feel like you’re paying for benefits that you don’t actually need, or perhaps you’ve realized that you require more extensive coverage. It’s also possible that you want to change your insurance company or find a policy that costs less. Whatever the reason, switching Medigap policies is a decision that requires careful consideration. Let’s dive into the details!
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Reasons You May Want to Change Medigap Policies
You’re paying for benefits you don’t need: If you find yourself in a situation where you’re paying for benefits that you rarely or never use, it might be time to explore other Medigap policies that offer more suitable coverage options for your needs.
You need more benefits: On the flip side, if you realize that your current Medigap policy isn’t providing enough coverage for your requirements, it’s worth exploring other options that offer a wider range of benefits.
You want to change your insurance company: Sometimes, the relationship between you and your insurance company doesn’t quite click. If you’re unsatisfied with the service or experience you’re receiving, it’s perfectly reasonable to explore other Medigap policies offered by different insurance companies.
You want a policy that costs less: Financial considerations are important too. If you feel like you’re paying more than your budget allows for your current Medigap policy, it may be worth seeking out a policy that offers similar benefits but comes with a lower price tag.
Can I Change My Medigap Policy?
Under federal law, changing Medigap policies is not always possible unless specific circumstances apply. However, there are a few exceptions:
Specific circumstance or guaranteed emission rights: If you meet the eligibility criteria under a specific circumstance or have guaranteed emission rights, you may have the right to change your Medigap policy.
Within the 6-month medigap open enrollment period: During this period, which starts from when you first enroll in Medicare Part B, you have the flexibility to change your Medigap policy without waiting for a certain amount of time.
It’s important to note that if you have an old Medigap policy, you don’t necessarily have to switch. However, if you choose to buy a new Medigap policy, you will need to give up your old policy (with the exception of the 30-day “free trial” period). Once you cancel your old policy, you won’t be able to get it back as it’s no longer a standardized policy and cannot be sold.
If you purchased your policy before 2010, it may offer coverage options that are not available in newer policies. Additionally, if you bought your policy before 1992, there are a few things to consider. Your policy may not be guaranteed renewable, meaning you may face a higher premium increase compared to the latest standardized Medigap policies currently available.
What About Pre-Existing Conditions?
When changing Medigap policies, it’s essential to keep in mind how pre-existing conditions are handled. The number of months you’ve had your current Medigap policy will determine the waiting period before your new policy covers these conditions. However, the new insurance company cannot exclude your pre-existing conditions.
If you’ve had your Medigap policy for less than 6 months, the number of months you’ve already had it will be subtracted from the waiting period for your new policy to cover pre-existing conditions. On the other hand, if you’ve had your current policy for more than 6 months, you may still have to wait up to 6 months before that benefit is covered, regardless of how long you’ve had your current Medigap policy.
Remember, you are allowed to keep your current Medigap policy regardless of where you live, as long as you have it. But if you’re considering a change, make sure to check with your current or new insurance company to explore different policy options that they may offer. Keep in mind that switching may result in higher premiums for your new Medigap policy, and you might need to answer some medical questions if you’re buying a policy outside of your Medigap open enrollment period.
Here are your options:
Buy a standardized Medigap policy: If you decide to stick with your current insurance carrier, you can purchase a standardized Medigap policy from them, which offers the same or fewer benefits than your current policy. If you’ve had your Medicare Select policy for more than 6 months, you won’t have to answer any medical questions.
Use your guaranteed issue right: Another option is to exercise your guaranteed issue right, which allows you to buy a Medigap plan A, B, C, F, K, or L from any insurance company selling these plans in most states.
To learn more about how Medigap works with Medicare Advantage plans, explore the additional resources available.
How to Change Medigap Policies
Ready to make the switch? Follow these steps to change your Medigap policy smoothly:
Call the new insurance company: Reach out to the insurance company that offers the Medigap policy you’re interested in. Discuss your options and make arrangements to apply for the new policy.
Terminate your current coverage: Once your application for the new policy is accepted, call your existing insurance company to request the termination of your coverage. They will guide you on how to submit a request for cancellation.
The Medigap Free Review Period
It’s important to note that you have a 30-day window to decide whether you want to keep the new Medigap policy. This period is called the “free trial period.” It begins as soon as you receive your new Medigap policy. During this time, you will need to pay premiums for both policies for one month.
A word of caution: don’t cancel your first Medigap policy until you’ve made a decision to keep the second policy. In your new Medigap policy application, you must promise to cancel your first policy.
Changing your Medigap policy can be a significant decision. Take the time to evaluate your needs, compare different policies, and consider expert advice. With thorough research and careful planning, you can find a Medigap policy that better aligns with your requirements.