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Can I cancel a Medigap policy at any time?

 Yes, Medigap policies don’t have an annual open enrollment period like the time from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 for a Medicare Part D prescription or Medicare Advantage plan. So you can cancel, buy or switch Medigap policies any time during the year.

But if you change your mind, you may have a difficult time getting Medigap coverage again. Unless you buy at certain times, an insurer may reject you or charge more because of preexisting health conditions.

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Medicare supplement insurance, better known as Medigap, is an additional policy that helps pay original Medicare copayments, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. Some Medigap policies provide extra coverage, for example, for foreign travel emergencies.

Private insurers sell Medigap policies. Federal and state laws regulate the plans.

Can I switch Medigap policies at any time?

Yes, but insurers may ask questions about your health if you don’t qualify for a guaranteed issue right period, when you’re assured of the ability to purchase a plan even if you have health problems.

That’s why it’s important to think about your present and future needs when you first buy a policy. You may want to find a Medigap policy with a company that has lower premiums or better customer service, because you have more coverage than you need, or so you can qualify for additional coverage such as foreign travel emergencies.

Some states let you change Medigap policies at certain times during the year, regardless of your health:

  • In California, you have 60 days after your birthday to swap plans.
  • In Missouri, you have up to 30 days before and after the anniversary of the date you purchased the policy to switch to the same letter plan with a different insurer.
  • In Oregon, you have 30 days after your birthday each year to buy another Medigap plan with equal or lesser benefits.

In Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York, insurers must sell you any Medigap policy at any time regardless of preexisting conditions. In Maine, you can change policies and insurers as long as you choose a plan with the same or lesser benefits and you’ve never had a gap in coverage of more than 90 days.

You can find out more about your state’s Medigap rules from your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) or from your state insurance department. Most state insurance departments have lists of premiums for each insurer’s Medigap policies available in the state by area and age of buyer, although your premiums may be different if you don’t qualify for a guaranteed issue period.

Are plans the same no matter where I live?

In all but three states, the answer is yes. In 1992, the federal government standardized the types of Medigap plans. Insurers can offer any of 10 variations: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M and N.

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Every plan with the same letter designation must have the same coverage, regardless of which insurer sells it, although premiums can vary by company. But Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin don't use the same letter system for their plans.

Changes to Medicare benefits through the years have meant some plans across the country have gone out of use:

  • Plans C and F, which cover Part B’s annual deductible, aren’t available for beneficiaries who became eligible for Medicare after Dec. 31, 2019, because of a law called the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015.
  • Plan E used to pay for some types of preventive and home health care that original Medicare didn’t cover before 2003’s Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act. The passage of that law meant Plan E duplicated Plan D, so Plan E wasn’t offered after May 31, 2010.
  • Plans H, I and J contained prescription drug benefits before 2003’s Medicare Modernization Act paved the way for Medicare Part D. They also weren’t sold after May 31, 2010.

Can my insurer cancel the Medigap policy I already have?

No, insurers can’t cancel your Medigap policy without your permission. But they are allowed a few exceptions:

  • You stop paying your premiums.
  • You provided false information on your Medigap policy application.
  • The company becomes bankrupt or insolvent.

If your Medigap insurance company goes bankrupt and you lose coverage or if your Medigap policy ends through no fault of your own, you have a right for up to 63 days after the coverage ends to buy most of the Medigap plans available in your area.

If you bought your present Medigap policy before 1992, you face different rules. In that case, the Medigap insurer may refuse to renew your Medigap policy, but it must get the state’s approval. If that happens, you have the right to buy another Medigap policy.

You can choose to drop your Medigap policy yourself if you want to get your health and drug coverage from a private Medicare Advantage plan instead of original Medicare. You might decide to drop your Medigap policy if you get a new job and have coverage from your employer to fill in Medicare’s gaps. You will also need to drop your Medigap policy if you want to switch to a new one because you can only have one Medigap policy at a time.

Contact the insurance company if you want to cancel your Medigap policy. But remember, you may not be able to repurchase a new Medigap policy unless you qualify for guaranteed issue rights. For example, if you dropped a Medigap policy to sign up for Medicare Advantage, you can return to original Medicare and buy the policy you originally had, or you can switch to most other Medigap plans if your former policy isn’t available.

Keep in mind

Sometimes insurers will let you swap one policy for another among the offerings they sell if you already have coverage with them. The questions asked about your health are not standardized and can vary a lot depending on the insurer. You can find out more about the policies available in your area and contact information for the insurers at the Medigap Plan Finder.

Updated October 26, 2022

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