How soon do I need to buy a Medigap policy if my Medicare Advantage plan will no longer be available after the end of the year?

If you want to purchase a Medigap policy to replace a Medicare Advantage plan that will no longer be available after the end of the year, how soon do you need to do it?

Because Medicare Advantage plans end on December 31 of every year, this is a question everyone enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan ought to know the answer to.

Although Medicare Advantage plans are usually renewed from one year to the next, there is no guarantee that this will happen. At the end of any year, your current plan’s sponsor may:

    • Change your benefits
    • Change your premiums
    • Not renew your plan
    • Leave your service area – in effect, discontinuing service to you

If your Medicare Advantage plan will no longer be available after the end of the year, you should receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) by the end of September. After receiving your ANOC, you will be able to:

    • Leave Medicare Advantage and return to Original Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B
    • Enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan with or without prescription drug coverage

If you choose the first of these options, you will be able to purchase a Medicare supplement plan available in your area. This is most easily done during the Annual Election Period (AEP), which in 2013 will take place between October 15 and December 7. The new policy will take effect on January 1.

If you choose to enroll in a Medigap plan during the Annual Election Period, the company selling you the plan may require a waiting period of up to six months before covering any pre-existing conditions for

which you received treatment or medical advice from a physician within the previous six months. Before choosing a company and plan, it is important to confirm whether a company selling a particular plan will require a waiting period before covering a pre-existing condition.

However, if you are losing coverage because your Medicare Advantage plan will no longer be available, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP), which would guarantee your right to enroll in any Medicare supplement plan available in your area without having to provide information about your medical history or pre-existing conditions. If you are eligible for an SEP, there is no waiting period before your plan covers pre-existing conditions.

Contact MedicareMall now to learn whether you may qualify for an SEP, and to learn about all your best Medigap options.

© 2013

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