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Can I have more than one Medigap plan at the same time?


No. By law, private insurers who sell Medigap policies aren’t allowed to sell more than one Medigap plan to the same person.

Medicare supplement insurance policy, better known as Medigap, helps fill the gaps in original Medicare coverage by paying any deductibles, copayments and other out-of-pocket costs that Medicare doesn’t. Some Medigap policies also cover extra expenses that Medicare excludes, such as for foreign travel emergencies.

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Tricky to switch. If you’re now enrolled in a Medigap plan but want to buy a different Medigap policy — maybe if another one has more coverage or lower premiums — you’ll need to cancel your original Medigap policy.

But you don’t want to cancel that policy until you know that you qualify for the new coverage. Unless you change plans at certain times, Medigap insurers in most states can reject you or charge you higher premiums because of preexisting conditions.

Private insurance, government rules. While private insurers sell Medigap policies, the states and federal government strictly regulate them. These plans are available to people enrolled in Medicare parts A and B but not Medicare Advantage plans.

In 1992, the government standardized the types of Medigap plans these insurers could offer, which have changed a few times since then. Companies now sell 10 plans: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M and N. But plans C and F aren’t available for people who became eligible for Medicare after Dec. 31, 2019.

Every policy with the same letter designation must have the same coverage, regardless of which insurer sells it, although premiums vary by company. MassachusettsMinnesota and Wisconsin use a different system for their plans. 

When can I switch Medigap policies?

You can shop for Medigap policies at any time because the plans don’t have an annual open enrollment period like for Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans. But in most states, Medigap insurers can ask questions about your health and can reject you or charge more because of your existing medical conditions.

However, exceptions do exist. If you qualify for guaranteed issue rights, instances in which you’re protected from being denied or overcharged for a policy, insurers must let you buy a Medigap policy without medical questions.

You can buy any Medigap policy available in your area at the best rates for your age within six months of signing up for Medicare Part B at age 65 or older. And you have 63 days to switch to a different Medigap policy without facing health questions if your Medigap coverage ends through no fault of your own, such as the company going bankrupt. You can also get a Medigap policy without being questioned about your health history if you signed up for a Medicare Advantage policy for the first time but then changed your mind within the first year.

Some states have special times you can switch Medigap policies regardless of your health:

  • In California, you have 60 days after your birthday to switch to another Medigap plan with equal or lesser benefits.
  • In Oregon, you have 30 days after your birthday to do so.
  • Three states — Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York — allow you to buy a Medigap policy at any time regardless of your preexisting conditions.

To find out more about your state’s Medigap rules, contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) or your state insurance department.

How do I switch Medigap policies?

First, confirm your application for a new Medigap policy is accepted before you cancel your current coverage. A Medigap insurer can sell you a new policy if you state in writing that you plan to cancel your present policy.

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Then contact your original insurance company and ask for the steps needed to cancel your policy. You may be charged for the policy you’re canceling through the end of the month.

This is different from shopping for Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription plans in Medicare’s Plan Finder. With those, your present plan is automatically canceled for the coming year when you sign up for a new one, so the policies won’t overlap.

Keep in mind

If you decide to get coverage from a Medicare Advantage plan instead of original Medicare, you won’t need a Medigap policy. In many cases, having both is prohibited.

Remember, it’s illegal for anyone to sell you a Medigap policy if you have a Medicare Advantage plan unless you’re in the process of switching to original Medicare and seeking to drop your Medicare Advantage plan. However, insurers can sell you a policy if your Medicare Advantage coverage will end before the Medigap policy’s effective date.

Likewise, if you already have a Medigap policy and then join a Medicare Advantage plan, the two types of insurance won’t work together. You can’t use your Medigap to pay your Medicare Advantage copayments, deductibles or premiums.

Updated November 9, 2022

 

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