When You Can Change Your Medicare Supplement Plan

By Lance D. Reedy

There is plenty of confusion about when a person can and cannot change his/her Medicare supplement plan. Many people that I encounter are under the logical but mistaken impression that they can only change their Medicare supplement plan during the October 15th to December 7th Annual Election Period (AEP). The AEP is the time when a person can change his Part D prescription plan or Medicare advantage plan. A person can also switch from original Medicare to Medicare advantage (Part C) or vice versa. Please refer to my archived Newsletter, MedSupp News #14, for more details.  Put another way, the AEP involves a change where one or both ends of the change involves a Part D prescription plan or a Medicare advantage plan.

A Medicare supplement to another Medicare supplement switch does not have a Medicare advantage or Part D plan on either end of the change. Therefore, this switch falls outside of the rules of the AEP.

A Medicare supplement is an insurance product that is regulated and approved by the state insurance departments. The insurance companies’ Medicare supplement plans must follow Medicare’s established model for the benefits for every plan they offer. They also have to abide by the rules for the sixth month open enrollment period that begins the month when a person is eligible for Medicare Part B. For most people this begins on the first of the month when they turn 65. Likewise, the insurance companies have to follow the guarantee issue rules for a person past 65 that is losing other coverage. For a history about the standardization of these benefits, please refer to the page, Why No Plans E, H, I, or J.

However, in general there is no Medicare oversight stipulating when a person can change his/her Medicare supplement plan. Therefore, in most states a person can change her plan any month of the year providing that she medically qualifies for a new plan. Medically qualifying means that a person hasn’t had recent and serious medical issues such as strokes, cancer, heart attacks, any vascular surgery, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, and so forth. Most companies require all “no’s” on their application’s health questions. There are a few states that allow a person to change a Medicare supplement plan without having to meet the medically qualifying requirements. Please check with your agent or state insurance department for specific regulations in this regard.

Key Takeaways

  • • You can change your Medicare supplement any month of the year.
  • • You must medically qualify with the new company that you are applying to.
  • • You are usually eligible for a refund if you have paid in advance to a company that you are leaving. For more details about refunds, please click here.
  • • Changing to the same company as your spouse or other household member, in some situations, may qualify you for a discount. Please check with your agent.