One of the daunting issues that cause people stress when choosing any insurance policy is that they're making a decision now for an untold period of time and unknown status in the future. Our brains just plain do not like this risk of making a bad decision and this why we fret over many insurance choosing decisions. Picking an Medicare supplement insurance plan is no different and in fact, the period of time and the probably health related issues during that particular period of time is risk and more prolonged than most other health insurance decisions. How easy (or hard) is it to make changes to your Medicare supplement insurance plan in the future? Good question. Before you can decide on any given Medigap plan, it's best to first understand if you can change it later on.
For most people, there first Medicare supplement insurance will be guaranteed issue which means they cannot be turned down for health. There certain qualifying events with turning 65 and/or leaving a group insurance plan age 65 or older being the two most common. When these guaranteed issue triggers occur, you generally can get Part A and Part B plus a Medicare Supplement plan within a certain period of time regardless of health. What if you choose a plan and decide that it's not the right plan for you?
If you're in good health, you may be able to change Medicare supplement insurance plans at any time. The health questions to qualify for this change are actually pretty serious so it's not terribly difficult to qualify. Of course, if you have more serious health issues, you may not be able to make the change and will have to remain on the initial plan you chose. Keep in mind that if you're still in your initial guaranteed issue window, you may be able to change regardless of health. If you have significant health issues, make sure the initial plan is the right choice for you during this time or better yet, work with a licensed agent to choose the right plan up front so you have no issues later on.
If you move out of the State, you can still keep your Medicare supplement plan so no changes are required. The plan of a given State will "travel" with you since the network is essentially nationwide. What if your on an Advantage plan and move out of the available area where they cover? That can also be a qualifying event to change to a Medicare supplement insurance plan. The same would hold true if your carrier stops offering Medicare supplement plans. Both of these situations where you involuntarily lose your Advantage or Medicare supplement plan should trigger the ability to change plans regardless of health. Involuntary is the key word there. You can't just drop a plan by not paying it or voluntarily canceling it in order to change plans.
Ultimately, to reverse the metaphor, a good defense is a strong offense so choose wisely up front. This is partially a function of benefits (check out the F Standardized Medicare Supplement Plan), carrier strength (which affects long term pricing, and of course, current pricing. We have written articles on comparing the carriers, comparing the Medicare supplement plans, and tips about pricing for further investigation. Since you're making a decision potentially for decades, picking the right plan up front can save you hardship later on.