Medigap underwriting basics

You are a Medicare recipient and are outside of your Medigap Open Enrollment Period (the first six months of being 65 AND having Part B of Medicare), and you either have no additional policy, a Medicare Advantage program, or a Medicare Supplement plan.

You want to change your plan or at least shop around for a more cost-effective option but are left wondering what kind of health questioning you will have to endure to qualify if you find a plan you want.

Here are some simple rules to follow in a discussion about changing your plan:

  1. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you must wait until the Annual Enrollment Period to switch plans. Should you choose another Medicare Advantage program, you will not answer health questions. Should you apply for a Medicare Supplement plan, you will answer health questions and possibly provide a list of prescriptions.
  2. If you have a Medicare Supplement plan, you can change to another Medicare Supplement plan at any point during the year and will have to answer the basic health questions to qualify, no matter what plan you are in and no matter which carrier you are currently enrolled with.
  3. While there is a core set of questions asked by most carriers, there are some slight differences between how carriers view certain conditions. Speak with a licensed advisor who knows the field underwriting standards for several carriers, not just one.
  4. Some people fear that trying to switch plans and going through underwriting could negatively affect their current plan and potentially increase their current rate. This is not true. There is zero risk in applying for a new plan.
  5. If you can switch plans, doing so may save you a substantial amount of money in the long run. Even if you have a few health issues, we encourage you to shop your policy to make sure you are not overpaying. It cannot be reiterated enough that even if you have a couple of health issues, there may be a lower priced option for your standardized plan that will still accept you!

BONUS: What is underwriting?