- February 10, 2021
What is Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Insurance?
Medicare Supplement Plans (also known as Medigap Plans) are sold by private insurance companies that help reduce gaps in coverage for those who are only enrolled in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). Like Basic Medicare, a Medicare Supplement plan allows you to get fee-for-service medical care from any provider who accepts Medicare. These types of plans “wrap around” Basic Medicare benefits and can eliminate your requirement to pay various deductibles and co-insurance.
How Medigap Plans Work in California
There are a number of Medicare Supplement Plans available to those with Basic Medicare. In California, you have access to the same 10 standardized Medigap Plans that most states receive. Each plan is labeled by letters A, B, C, D, E, F, G, K, L, M, and N. These letters signify the same level of coverage across private companies which allows you to compare coverage and costs more effectively. In California, some carriers offer extra benefits to Plans F & G that go beyond Basic Medicare. These extra benefits may include vision, hearing, and gym/health club memberships.
In order to enroll in a Medigap Plan in California, you have a few options. Primarily, the best time to buy a Medicare Supplement Plan is during the Medigap Open Enrollment Period, which is the six-month period that begins on your 65th birthday. During this time, you can sign up for any Medicare Supplement Plan without being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.
How to Switch Medicare Supplement Plans in California
Luckily, California is one of the few states that have state-specific guidelines to make it easier to switch Medicare Supplement plans outside of your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This is referred to as the California “birthday rule,” which allows you to switch to a different Medicare Supplement plan for a period of 60 days following your birthday each year.
In other states, you may be subject to increasing prices for your existing plan and have no guarantee of being approved for a less expensive option, but in California, you have protection and are guaranteed approval for any Medigap Plan you switch to, within certain criteria.
California Birthday Rule Requirements
So how does the “birthday rule” work with Medicare Supplement Plans in California? In order to take advantage of this rule, you must:
- Already be enrolled in a Medigap Plan,
- Live in California,
- Switch to a Medigap Plan with the same or lesser benefits, and
- Apply within 60 days following your birthday.
Common Reasons to Switch Medigap Plans
There are a number of reasons why individuals choose to switch their Medigap plan, some of the most common reasons are:
- The need for more or different benefits,
- Paying for benefits you don’t need,
- Wanting to change your insurance provider, or
- Needing a less expensive policy
If any of these reasons apply you are eligible to switch Medicare Supplement plans in California because of the “birthday rule”.
Help with How to Switch Medicare Supplement Plans in California
Even for people experienced with Medicare, choosing the best Medicare Supplement Plan in California can be a confusing and overwhelming process. For some, it may be best to get help from a professional licensed insurance agent, who can assist with any questions and make sure you’re taking full advantage of the options available to you. At Griset Medicare Solutions, we’ve helped many individuals evaluate and enroll in Medicare Supplement plans that are right for them. Schedule an unbiased, free, no-obligation consultation now by calling (714) 834-1322.