Site Links HomeMedicare BasicsBlog ArticlesFind an AgentTurning 65 Medicare Answers Call a Local AgentFind the Right Plan LEGAL Privacy Policy©2020 LMS Insurance, LLC – All Rights ReservedPerson jumping from one arrow to the next, changing your Medicare planPublished on: 03/26/2024

How to Change Your Medicare Plan

Most Medicare beneficiaries will have more than one Medicare plan throughout their lives. As we age, it’s not uncommon to undergo health changes, which means our insurance needs can shift. Not only that, but we may also experience changes in our finances. Taking the time to evaluate your Medicare plans every few years (at least) is a great way to make sure your healthcare budget is spent wisely.

That being said, changing your Medicare plan isn’t always easy - or possible. There are several kinds of Medicare plans, along with multiple enrollment windows and underwriting requirements. Today, we’re going to run through a few of the most common scenarios when you’re able to change your Medicare plans.

Changing from One Medicare Supplement to Another

If you want to switch from one Medicare Supplement plan to another, it’s likely because you want to lower your monthly premium. Most Medicare Supplements (also called Medigap plans) increase their premiums as you age. This happens across the board with all insurance carriers, but some carriers have slower rate trends than others. Also, new companies can emerge into the market and provide lower premiums. Because of all this, comparing your current rate to other carriers every two or three years can help you find significant savings.

Local Medicare Specialists use a Medigap comparison tool that helps us find the most competitive rates for our clients. Of course, it’s not always best to choose the lowest premium. We also advise our clients to look at the carrier’s financial ratings, as well as their history of rate increases.

Changing from one Medicare Supplement to another will usually require you to go through medical underwriting. You won’t have to get a physical exam, but you will have to answer health questions and list your current and past prescriptions. This insurance carrier will review this information and then make a decision to either accept or reject your application. If your application is rejected, you won’t lose your current Medigap plan. It simply means you won’t be able to change your Medigap plan at that time and with that carrier.  

Insurance companies set their own eligibility requirements. We know which carriers will deny certain health conditions, so we can help guide you to companies that are more likely to accept your application.

Man thinking about changing Medicare plans

Changing from Medigap to Medicare Advantage

As with any insurance decision, there are a few things you should consider before switching from Medigap to Medicare Advantage. This post isn’t where we’ll cover this topic in-depth, but we will take you through some of the most important aspects to look at.

First, your providers. Original Medicare allows you to see any provider that accepts Medicare, and the same is true of Medigap plans. There are no provider networks. Medicare Advantage plans, on the other hand, typically come with a network of providers and facilities. There are several kinds of Medicare Advantage plans, each with its own set of rules. Some allow for lesser benefits outside of the network, while others don’t allow for coverage at all. If you switch to Medicare Advantage, make sure the providers you want to see are in the plan’s network.

Second, the costs. At a glance, you’ll think that Medicare Advantage plans are the cheaper options. And when it comes to premiums, you’re right. Medicare Advantage plans offer low monthly premiums - sometimes as low as $0 per month - but you’ll pay for services as you need them. Depending on your health, these copays could amount to more than your previous Medigap premiums.

You can only make the move to Medicare Advantage during an approved election period. In most cases, this is during the Annual Election Period (AEP). From October 15 to December 7, you can choose to drop your Medicare Supplement plan and enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans do not require any medical underwriting. If you make the switch during AEP, your new coverage will begin on January 1. 

Changing from Medicare Advantage to Medigap

What if you decide you don’t like your Medicare Advantage plan? Can you switch back to Original Medicare? Maybe.

The first time you try a Medicare Advantage plan, whether that’s when you first enroll in Medicare or years down the road, you’re allowed a 12-month trial period. During those 12 months, if you decide you’d rather switch back to Original Medicare with a Medigap plan, you can do so without having to go through medical underwriting.

The catch to this is that you’ll have to go back to your same plan with the same carrier. That is the only way to get around underwriting. Of course, if you are relatively healthy, you can go through the underwriting process to switch to a new Medigap plan.

Also, it’s important to know that Medigap is the only policy that requires underwriting. Original Medicare does not. So, you could drop your Medicare Advantage plan and have only Medicare Part A and Part B. However, we don’t recommend this in most cases.

Changing from One Medicare Advantage Plan to Another Medicare Advantage Plan

Changing from one Medicare Advantage plan to another is the simplest process. You can make this change during a valid election period, like the Annual Election Period we mentioned earlier. You can also make a one-time change during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, which runs annually from January 1 through March 31.

There are other scenarios when you might be able to change your Medicare Advantage plan. For example, there is a Special Enrollment Period available when a 5-star plan enters the area. You can also qualify for an SEP if you or your plan move out of the service area. If you’ve had a significant, life-changing event, talk to your advisor at Local Medicare Specialists to see if you qualify for an SEP.

Get Help Changing Your Medicare Plan

Make your life easy - call the Medicare experts at Local Medicare Specialists. Our advisors know all the ins and outs of how each Medicare plan works and the rules around when you can change your Medicare plan. We’ve helped thousands of people just like you, and our services are completely free. Call today to talk to an insurance agent near you.

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