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Medigap: Can I Change Plans?

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I recently received a question from a reader with Medicare coverage.

Q: I’m 75 years old with original Medicare and a Medigap plan. My monthly premium recently increased by 40%. I can’t afford it. Can I change Medigap policies?

A: Medigap plans are private insurance policies that work with original Medicare. Medigap covers some or all of the out-of-pocket costs that Medicare alone does not. You’re guaranteed a Medigap policy for the first 6 months of turning 65, but after that, insurers are allowed to consider the state of your health when deciding whether to sell you a plan and at what price. And, as you’ve experienced, the price of Medigap plans can increase over time.

You can certainly inquire about changing your Medigap plan, and you should. All insurers offering these policies have the same standardized packages. The main difference is price, which can vary quite a lot from one insurer to the next. And as you consider your options, keep in mind that although your premium may be high, if you require a lot of medical care, dropping the policy is likely to be even costlier, as you’d be paying on your own for services Medicare alone won’t cover.

Finding the best Medicare supplement and drug benefit plan can be tricky. I suggest you talk with a Medicare counselor for personalized assistance. Contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP). To find the SHIP near you, visit the Medicare Helpful Contacts or call (800) MEDICARE.

You can also compare plans and their costs side-by-side at the Medicare Plan Finder (go to Medicare.gov and look for Medicare Plan Finder under the Resource Locator heading on the home page), or by going to eHealthMedicare.com or calling 1-888-296-0117.

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