You can change Medicare supplement plans at any time of year – but in most states you will have to pass medical underwriting to do so.
This is a very common misconception because people get confused about the Annual Election Period that Medicare holds each fall. During this time, you can freely change your Medicare Part D drug plan and/or your Medicare Advantage plan.
This period DOES NOT, however, apply to Medicare supplements, also known as Medigap plans.
Medigap Has a One-Time Open Enrollment Window
Medicare supplements are private health insurance policies, just like life insurance. When you first turn 65 or enroll in Part B, whichever comes later, you get a ONE-TIME window during which you can buy any supplement. During this window, the insurance company cannot turn you down for health reasons. After that six-month open enrollment window passes, you can still apply to change your Medicare supplement. However, you now have to answer the health questions on the application. You must be able to pass the carrier’s underwriting to be accepted.
It’s important for you to know certain health condition may result in you being unable to change. You will want to try to use your one-time open enrollment window wisely. Be sure to choose a carrier with a proven track record of low rate increases.
If you are past your one-time open enrollment window, you can apply to change plans at any time of year.
I’ve noticed over the years that people often ask this question more than once. After all, it’s confusing. Medicare Advantage plans and Part D plans can only be changed at certain times of year, but Medicare supplements are different.
Yes, but it may require underwriting. Most of our clients ask us to evaluate their rates at their annual policy anniversary. You will get a letter from your Medicare supplement carrier about one month before your policy anniversary each year. If the plan is taking a rate increase, this letter will notify you of how much the rate increase will be.
That’s the perfect time to call Boomer Benefits. We’ll shop rates to see if any other Medicare supplement company has lower rates for you. If so, then we will walk you through the health questions required on the Medicare Supplement application to see if you are likely to pass underwriting.
If you are able to answer no to these health questions, then we can submit an application for you. Sometimes there might be a health condition that is temporary or a pending surgery that prevents you from changing. That’s okay – we can always try again in the future.
No there is not. Once your six-month open enrollment period has expired, you can change anytime. However, there’s generally no reason to change unless you’ve had a rate increase and are shopping for a lower rate.
In some states, there are rules that allow you to change Medicare supplement plans without underwriting. This includes California, Washington, Oregon, Missouri and a couple others.
Call us for details on when you can change your plan in that state to take advantage of the “no underwriting” rules.
Get Our Help with Changing Medicare Supplement Plans
So just remember, the Annual Election Period (AEP) in the fall is for Part D drug plan changes and Medicare Advantage plan changes only. Certainly, you could leave a Medicare Advantage plan during this time and apply for a Medicare supplement instead. But in most cases, the insurance company will perform medical underwriting to see if you qualify. It is not guaranteed that you will be approved for the supplement coverage.
Curious to know whether you can change Medicare supplement plans and lower your premiums? Give us a call and we can help you answer that question.