When Can I Change My Medicare Supplement?
by John Claeys
When Can I Change?
If you purchased a Medicare supplement that has experienced high rate increases, you may be looking at changing your Medicare coverage to save money. If so, your first question may be: When can I change my Medicare supplement? The answer to that question depends. By the way, here is a guide to getting the best Medicare supplement for you:
I know, that sounds like a very political answer; but it is true. It depends on the type of change you want to make.
If you want to change to a Medicare Advantage plan, you will need to wait until the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). However, if you want to change to another Medicare supplement, you can change anytime. Well, not quite. You can change anytime you can health qualify for another supplement. While there is a proviso on that change, the good news is that you do not need to wait until AEP to change your supplement.
I Have to Qualify for a Medicare Supplement?!
An individual has six months past Part B effective date to get a Medicare supplement of their choice without having to health qualify. This means not having to answer any health questions to get the coverage of your choice. After that period of time, you can enroll on any Medicare supplement offered in your state IF you can health qualify.
This means answering the health questions on the application, providing information about your doctor, and listing information regarding the medications you take.
Is It Hard to Qualify for a Medicare Supplement?
That depends. (This appears to be another political answer.) It depends on your health and the insurance carrier with which you are applying for coverage. If you have certain medical conditions, you may not qualify for a different Medicare supplement. Generally, these are conditions or combinations of conditions that could expose the insurance company to greater risk. Insurance is all about risk, so the insurance carrier is looking to see what kind of risk you are to that company.
If the company views you as potentially costing it a lot of money down the road, it will decline your application for coverage. But if the company views you as a good risk, then you will generally be accepted for coverage. The health questions and the medications you take can give the insurance company a good idea about what risk you may be to it.
It is important to understand here that different insurance carriers have different underwriting standards. This means that some companies will be more liberal in terms of whom they accept for coverage. So, just because your application is declined by one insurance carrier does not mean it would be declined by all insurance carriers. This means that if you really want to save money, you can apply to a different company after being declined by your first choice. In other words, don’t give up. (Typically, companies with the lowest premiums have the most stringent underwriting standards.)
A Point of Practical Application
At this point, your head may be swimming. After all, you want to save money on your Medicare supplement, so you want to apply with another insurance company. But to which company do you apply? Even if you find a carrier with better rates, how do you know what the underwriting standards will be? And, another important question to ask: Even if I find a company with a lower premium now, will that company jump its rates down the road? (Of course, none of us can tell the future, but past performance of a company can sometimes be a good indicator. Here is an article to guide you in that area.) So what to do? How can I make life easier?
This is where an experienced independent agent—one that represents lots of companies—can be of help. He or she can help point you in the right direction and, hopefully, save you a lot of money on your Medicare supplement. That suggestion just happens to align with this helpful maxim: It’s always good to find good help.
June 14, 2019
April 23, 2018