Millions of Americans enroll in Medigap to supplement healthcare costs incurred from Original Medicare Parts A and B. Changes to healthcare, financial, and lifestyle needs can lead seniors to reevaluate their medical benefits. You may wonder if you can cancel your Medicare Supplemental or Medigap policy. Additionally, in certain situations, your insurance carrier can cancel your coverage.
You can cancel a Medicare supplemental policy at any time. Contact your insurance carrier for specific termination requirements to avoid any problems.
If you cancel your Medigap policy and re-enroll later, you may have fewer options and need to go through the underwriting process.
Medigap plans are region-specific, meaning your policy may not cover you in a different area if you relocate.
Your insurance company can cancel your policy if they file bankruptcy or if you miss your monthly premium payments.
This article will explain how to cancel a Medigap policy, its long-term implications, and situations when insurance companies terminate coverage.
Can Medicare supplemental insurance be canceled?
You can cancel your Medicare supplemental insurance. However, there are a few things to consider before terminating your policy.
The first time you become eligible to purchase a Medigap policy (Medigap Open Enrollment) is the first month you are enrolled in Medicare Part B and are at least 65. The Medigap open enrollment period lasts six months. You can purchase a Medigap plan to supplement your Original Medicare benefits during this time. By law, private insurance companies must offer you a policy regardless of your health history and preexisting conditions. During this time, companies can’t deny seniors coverage or quote increased premiums because of their health. These protections are called the guaranteed issue period.
If you cancel your Medigap policy and re-enroll later, you may have fewer plans to choose from. Additionally, you may need to go through the underwriting process. Underwriting involves answering questions about your health history. You may also need to provide medical records or exam results. Private insurance companies have no obligation to cover seniors after the initial guaranteed issue period has passed, and they can charge higher monthly premiums based on health history and preexisting conditions.
Although exact policies may differ between insurers, preexisting conditions can result in denied coverage or increased premiums. Medigap policies are private insurance products. The benefits and plans change, so if you cancel a policy, know you may get a different one later.
Conditions that could cause coverage problems include but are not limited to the following:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Stroke or transient ischemic attacks
- Multiple Sclerosis
- End Stage Renal Disease
Can I cancel my Medicare supplemental plan anytime?
You can cancel a Medicare supplemental plan at any time. There are no penalties for terminating coverage, and you can choose to keep Original Medicare Parts A and B. Medigap plans are region-specific, meaning your policy may not cover you in a different area if you relocate. Relocation is a common reason people must terminate one Medigap plan and choose another or opt out altogether.
Other factors for canceling a Medigap policy may include:
- Choosing a plan with different coverage
- Healthy seniors may not need additional supplemental coverage
- Changing to a plan that has different monthly premiums
- Deciding to enroll in a Medicare Advantage instead
How to cancel your Medicare supplement insurance
You must notify the insurance company first. Each provider might have a slightly different process, but generally, you can expect to inform them of your intent to end coverage by phone and in writing. Some companies may require you to complete a form and return it. The company will likely ask why you are canceling coverage, and being upfront is a good idea, as requirements may differ depending on your answers. Contact your insurance representative for specifics and follow their directions to avoid problems. Make sure you get a confirmation for your records.
You are generally covered through the last day of the month of your final payment. So, for example, if you paid premiums for June, your benefits would end on June 30. On July 1, you would not have an active Medigap policy unless you enrolled in a new plan effective July 1. Spouses are not covered under the same policy; therefore, each person must have their own Medigap policy. If you and your partner are canceling coverage, you will need to go through this process individually.
- There is an exception for seniors who cancel a Medigap policy and choose to buy a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time. This provision allows seniors to try a Medicare Advantage plan. If unsatisfied, they can repurchase the same Medigap plan within 12 months if the insurance company still offers it. This period is called a “trial right period.”
- A second exception allows seniors to try a new Medigap policy and keep their old one for 30 days. Essentially, you hold two policies for 30 days. Premiums need to be paid on both policies. At the end of 30 days, if you choose to continue with the new policy, you must cancel the old one, or vice versa.
When can an insurer cancel a Medicare supplement plan?
Typically, when seniors enroll in a supplemental plan, it automatically renews annually. However, the following are instances when an insurance provider can cancel a Medigap plan:
- There is no agreement to bring missed payments current by the policyholder and the company
- The policyholder relocates and moves out of the plan coverage area
- The policyholder provides false or misleading information
- The policyholder does not pay their monthly premiums
- The company is bankrupt
How long is the guaranteed issue period for Medicare supplement plans?
The guaranteed issue period, also called the Medigap Open Enrollment period, begins when you are enrolled in Medicare Part B and are at least 65. It happens one time in your life and lasts for six months. Laws protect seniors from being denied Medigap coverage during the guaranteed issue period.
Why do you need Medicare supplemental insurance?
Medicare supplemental insurance is not a requirement. These are optional plans for seniors who have Original Medicare. Medigap plans offer seniors additional financial protection to help lower out-of-pocket costs for things original Medicare does not fully cover. Medicare supplemental policies provided by private insurance companies vary slightly by provider and location. Premiums can also range widely.
Can you switch from a Medicare supplement plan to an Advantage plan?
Medicare supplement plans are not the same as Medicare Advantage. So yes, you can switch to an Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans cover all the same benefits as an Original Medicare plan and then some. You can have Original Medicare and Medigap, but you cannot have Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. There is no need for a Medigap plan if you have Medicare Advantage.
- Medicare.gov. Get ready to buy—your Medigap Open Enrollment Period.
- Medicare.gov. 2023 Choosing a Medigap Policy.
- Medicare.gov. Can I switch or drop my Medigap policy?
- Medicare.gov. Understanding Medicare Advantage Plans.