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Why Change Medicare Supplement Plans, Also Called Medigap Plans?
If you are currently on Medicare Part A or Part B and you have Medigap supplemental insurance, you likely will wish to review your coverage from time to time as your medical needs change. What may have been the right choice initially may not still effectively meet your current needs. As your situation changes, so should your Medicare coverage be able to change to keep up with your medical needs. Some things to consider may include any changes in your health or prescription drug needs, whether your preferred doctor is still within your network, whether your out of pocket expenses have increased, and whether a better option exists in your residential area.
What to Consider When Changing Medigap Plans
Once you decide that your current Medicare supplement plan is not the best fit for your current situation, there are still factors to consider before jumping to another plan immediately. Some of the same things that you probably considered when first choosing your Medicare plans will apply when considering a change in plan.
You will want to compare all of the costs involved in both Medicare Advantage and Medigap insurance plan options before choosing the best fit for your lifestyle and health needs. You will also want to verify whether your chosen doctors and hospitals will be included in the network of your new plan and whether you will have sufficient benefits if you maintain residences in more than one location or travel frequently.
Finally, consider what parts of your Medicare supplement or Medicare Advantage plan are of value to you so that you may avoid paying for extras that you do not use. For example, if you do not generally need dental or visual coverage that is usually included in Medicare Advantage, you likely do not want to pay higher premiums for these items.
When Can You Change Medigap Plans?
The government regulates times and conditions for changing Medicare and Medigap plans. While there are exceptions for special circumstances, there are restrictions for when you can change plans under normal circumstances. Changing directly from one Medigap plan to a different Medigap plan can be done at any point throughout the year. However, checking with a new plan on how pre-existing conditions are handled is crucial to avoid being turned down. Otherwise, the annual election or open enrollment period is from October 15 to December 7 each year.
Within this time frame, you can choose to transfer from a Medigap plan to Medicare Advantage, from one Medicare Advantage plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan, from Medicare Advantage to a traditional Medicare Plan A or B plan, or from one prescription drug plan to another. In addition, if your change is from Medicare Advantage to traditional Medicare, you have an additional transfer period of January 1 to February 14 each year in which you can also choose a prescription drug plan in conjunction with your Medicare Part A or B.
Regardless of which type of change you may be planning, always allow yourself enough time to review the materials and options before making your decision. Materials are generally available at the beginning of each open transfer period and can be obtained upon request.