by Russell Noga | Updated July 12th, 2023
Medicare supplement plans (Medigap) offer additional benefits to bolster your coverage for your Original Medicare Part A & B policies. Medicare Part A & B only pay for 80% of healthcare costs relating to these services, and Medigap pays the balance, leaving you with a partial amount to pay or nothing to pay, depending on your plan.
Choosing the right Medigap policy to match your healthcare requirements is essential to avoid over or under-insuring yourself. If you have coverage that you’re not using, you’re wasting money on premiums. If you have too little coverage, you could end up with a costly medical or hospitalization bill.
The Medicare supplement free look period allows you to assess your plan and ensure it offers you the necessary coverage.
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What Medicare Part A & B Expenses Do Medigap Plans Cover?
There are ten Medigap plans, each offering a different level of coverage for Part A & B expenses associated with Original Medicare. Some provide comprehensive coverage, leaving you with nothing to pay, while others offer partial coverage. The plan you choose depends on your healthcare needs.
The CMS, a federal agency, regulates the Medigap industry, ensuring all providers have the same scope of benefits in each plan. As a result, the Plan G policy you buy from Aetna has the same benefits as a Plan G policy from Cigna.
All Medigap plans offer the following benefits.
- Part A coinsurance and hospital costs for up to 365 days after using up Medicare benefits.
- Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment.
- Part B coinsurance or copayment.
- Blood transfusion costs for the first three pints of blood.
Plans F, G, and N offer additional Medicare Parts A & B benefits.
- Part A deductible.
- Part B excess charges (Plan N doesn’t cover these charges).
- Skilled nursing facility care coinsurance.
- 80% of emergency healthcare costs when traveling outside the US for 60 days. ($250 deductible and $50,000 maximum apply).
- Unlimited coverage for all out-of-pocket costs.
*Plan F is only available for seniors qualifying for Medicare before January 1, 2020. If you’re eligible for Plan F, call our fully licensed Medigap consultants to discuss your enrollment strategy. Depending on your situation, you could qualify for guaranteed issue rights. Or you might have to undergo a medical underwriting.
What Is the Medicare Supplement Free Look Period?
If you’re considering changing your Medigap plan due to over or under-insurance or to reduce your financial responsibility for your monthly premiums, you can use the “free look” period. During the free look period, you can hold two Medigap plans while you decide which one to keep.
However, leveraging the free look period isn’t “free.” You’ll have to pay the premiums on both policies for that month. It’s important not to drop your plan until your provider accepts your application for your new policy, and that might take longer than 30 days in some instances.
What You Need to Know About the Medicare Supplement Free Look Period
- File your application for your new Medigap policy.
- Check the eligibility requirements for your new policy to see if you qualify.
- You’ll have to undergo medical underwriting if you are out of the guaranteed issue rights period during open or annual enrollment.
- Only California, Oregon, Washington, and Missouri allow beneficiaries to change plans without undergoing medical underwriting.
- Ensure the Medigap provider will accept your application for your new plan before canceling your old policy. (Unless you have guaranteed issue rights).
- If you cancel and reinstate your old policy, the provider can increase your premiums.
Will Providers Accept My Application for a Second Medicare Supplement Plan?
48 states offer ten Medigap plans, A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N. Some also provide high-deductible versions of Plans F & G, where you get lower premiums, but the Part A deductible increases from $1,600 to $2,700.
Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have different standardized benefits for Medigap plans and don’t offer the previous plan letters per se. When applying for your new Medigap policy, the provider may deny your application, and you won’t have access to the free look period. They may also deny you reinstatement of your old plan or charge you higher premiums.
The free look period doesn’t offer the same guaranteed issue rights as the Open Enrollment period. In some cases, the provider may issue a waiting period of up to six months before activating your benefits. If you cancel your old policy during the waiting period, you don’t have any coverage for Part A & B benefits.
How Can I Change Medicare Supplement Plans During the Free Look Period?
While the free look period doesn’t offer the same consumer protections as Open Enrollment, you can use the free look period during either of these enrollment periods. You’ll have to contact the insurer and request a starting date for your new plan before canceling your old policy if you want to keep the coverage from your old policy.
The free look period starts after the provider accepts and approves your new policy and lasts for 30 days from that start date. You can hold both your old and new policy during the free look period and notify your carrier of which one you want to keep after it ends. Ensure you get confirmation of dropping your old plan from your insurer, or you’re liable for paying two premiums.
How Do I Switch Medicare Supplement Policies Outside of the Free Look Period?
You can change your Medigap plan at any time of the year. However, you’ll have to undergo medical underwriting if you don’t have guaranteed issue rights. The best time to change our plan outside the initial open enrollment period is during the annual enrollment period lasting from October 15 to December 7.
Six states offer the “birthday rule” guaranteed issue right. This period starts around your birthday and lasts 30 to 60 days, depending on your state of residence. You can change to another Medigap plan with lesser or equal benefits or change providers during this time.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Medicare Supplement Free Look Period?
Call Us for More Information on the Medicare Supplement Free Look Period
If you need more information on the Medigap free look period and your guaranteed issue rights, call our team at 1-888-891-0229. We offer free consultations and quotes on Medigap plans. We’ll help you choose the plan that suits your healthcare needs and ensure you get the best rate on your policy.
If you can’t call us right now, leave your details on our contact form. We’ll get a Medigap expert to call you back and answer your questions.
Russell Noga is the CEO of Medisupps.com, an online Medicare Agency and resource center helping Medicare beneficiaries learn about Medicare, Medigap and Part D drug plans, and Medicare Advantage plans since 2009. Russell is licensed in all 50 states and has been featured as a keynote speaker, and author of several publications, along with hosting the very popular Medisupps.com Youtube channel.