One of the most often-asked questions about Medicare Supplement insurance is: “When can you change Medicare Supplement plans?” There is a lot of confusion out there about this topic, but fortunately, there is an amazingly simple and straight-forward answer.
Put simply, you can change Medicare supplement plans at any time you want to do so. Contrary to popular misconception, there is not an annual enrollment period for this type of plan or certain time of year that allows you to change plans.
WHEN Should You Change Medicare Supplement Plans?
Medicare Supplement plans are Federally-standardized. This just means that all companies are required to offer the same standardized coverage plans. However, over time, Medicare Supplement rates go up.
And, when you receive a notice that your Medicare Supplement plan is increasing in premium, it should be a trigger for you to compare Medicare Supplement rates to ensure you have the best “deal”. If you have a Plan G and like that plan type (Plan G is usually the best deal), you can simply compare other Plan G rates to see if there is a company with a better rate for the same coverage. You can do this any time of the year – there is not an annual time period for doing so.
A good agent or broker should be in touch with you annually, or at least bi-annually, to conduct a review of your plan, especially if there is a rate increase.
When your rate goes up, you should go shopping. With Medicare Supplement plans, there is no reason to pay “extra” for the same set of Federally-standardized benefits.
WHY Should You Change Medicare Supplement Plans?
Why would you, or should you, change Medicare Supplement plans? Simply put, you should considering changing plans to reduce your cost and avoid giving the Medicare Supplement company more of your hard-earned money than you have to.
As discussed above, all companies offer the same coverage plans from the Medigap coverage chart. So if one company is offering a better rate for the same coverage, that is reason enough to change Medicare Supplement plans.
Why Is There Confusion about Changing Medicare Supplement Plans?
There are two primary reasons why there is so much confusion about when you can change Medicare Supplement plans.
First, many people are accustomed to group insurance or individual plans (since the passage of ACA), which have an annual open enrollment period or period during which you can change plans. On those types of plans, you can generally not make plan changes outside of the annual enrollment period. This, however, is not the case with Medicare Supplement plans, which allow you to change plans or companies at any time for any reason.
The other major factor in the confusion about when you can change plans is that there are other types of Medicare coverage that do have an annual enrollment period. For example, with Medicare Part D plans (Medicare Rx coverage), you are limited as to when you can change plans. On this type of plan, you can only change during the annual election period (AEP) which goes from October 15-December 7 of each year.
Also, Medicare replacement plans called Medicare Advantage plans only allow you to change during that same AEP from October 15-December 7 each year. Companies that offer both of those plan types generally do a tremendous amount of marketing focused on that time of the year, referring to it as the “Medicare enrollment period”. While that is the only time to change those types of plans – Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage – you can change Medicare Supplements during that time period OR outside of it.
How Do You Change Medicare Supplement Plans?
Changing Medicare Supplement plans is easier to do than many people realize. Some Medicare beneficiaries choose to do it annually or bi-annually when their rates change. Others, however, don’t understand the plan standardization and the benefits of changing companies to reduce your cost.
When you want to change plans, you should simply compare the options for your age and zip code. The easiest way to do this is through an independent broker (us or someone else). An independent broker can provide you with a list of rates and company ratings for your area. Alternatively, some states offer a list of the companies offering Medigap plans in their state – you could obtain such a list and call each company to get their current rates for your age and zip code.
What Other Factors Are Involved With Changing Medicare Supplement Plans?
While you can certainly change Medicare Supplement plans at any time, there are other factors to consider when you are changing plans.
First, you do, in most cases, have to “qualify medically” to change plans, regardless of what time of year you are making a switch. This just means that you have to answer some general medical questions on the application. These questions vary from company to company. If you are in relatively good health, this is typically not an issue. But if you do have some significant pre-existing conditions, it can be difficult to change.
A second consideration is that you should give yourself plenty of time for a changeover. In other words, if you wanted the changeover to take effect on the 1st of the following month, you would want to do the application by mid-month. It generally takes a week or two for an application to be approved with most companies.
If you have any questions about Medicare Supplement plans or want to get a Medicare Supplement comparison by email, you can contact us online or call us at 877.506.3378.
Medicare-Supplement-Comparison.com has been in business for 10 years and has helped thousands of Medicare beneficiaries to compare their rates and choose a plan. See and hear what our clients have to say and contact us to see if you can save some money.