If you’d like to test a Medicare Advantage plan before making a long-term commitment, a Medicare Advantage trial period could be the answer.

What is a Medicare Advantage trial period?

Have you ever joined a trial subscription for a magazine or newspaper? A Medicare Advantage trial period works in a similar way.

You get 1 year to see if a Medicare Advantage plan is right for you. If you’re dissatisfied before the year is over, you can switch back to Original Medicare and buy a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, also known as a Medigap plan, without medical underwriting. You also might be able to a buy a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan (PDP).1

What are guaranteed issue rights?

Guaranteed issue rights, opens new window, also called Medigap protections, are rights you have in certain situations when insurance companies can’t refuse to sell you a Medigap policy. If you qualify, an insurance company:2

  • Must offer you a Medigap policy
  • Must cover all your preexisting health conditions
  • Can't charge more for a Medigap policy because of past or present health issues

When used for a Medicare Advantage plan, your guaranteed issue rights can be called Medicare Advantage trial rights.

When can I use a Medicare Advantage trial right?

There are 2 situations where you can use a Medicare Advantage trial right:

1. You joined a Medicare Advantage plan when you were first eligible for Medicare Part A at age 65, and within the first year of joining, you want to switch to Original Medicare.3

Under this trial right, you can leave a Medicare Advantage plan and buy any Medigap policy sold in your state by any insurance company.* However, you must apply for a Medigap policy as early as 60 days before the date your coverage will end or no later than 63 days after your coverage ends. Your rights could extend an extra 12 months under certain conditions.

2. You dropped a Medigap policy to join a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time, and within the first year of joining, you want to switch back.4

If you had a Medigap policy before joining Medicare Advantage, you can purchase the same policy from the same insurance company if it’s still offered. If the same policy isn't available, you can buy a Medigap Plan A, B, C*, D*, F*, G*, K or L that’s sold by any insurance company in your state. You also may be able to purchase additional plans depending on your state.

Just like the first trial right, you can apply for a Medigap policy as early as 60 days before the date your coverage will end but no later than 63 days after your coverage ends. Your rights could extend an extra 12 months under certain conditions here as well.

*Plans C and F will no longer be available to people new to Medicare on or after January 1, 2020. However, if you were eligible for Medicare before January 1, 2020, but not yet enrolled, you may be able to buy Plan C or Plan F. People eligible for Medicare on or after January 1, 2020, have the right to buy Plans D and G instead of Plans C and F.5

Note: If you leave a Medicare Advantage prescription drug (MAPD) plan during a trial period, return to Original Medicare and buy a Medigap plan without prescription drug coverage, you can enroll in a Medicare PDP at the same time.

Your right to a better plan

Finding a healthcare plan that fits your needs is important. If you aren’t satisfied with a Medicare Advantage plan, and you’ve been on your plan for less than a year, you may be able to make a change.

Sources

  1. “Guaranteed Issue Rights,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, last accessed October 5, 2020, https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-other-insurance/when-can-i-buy-medigap/guaranteed-issue-rights, opens new window.
  2. “Guaranteed Issue Rights.”
  3. “2020: Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, last accessed October 5, 2020, https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/02110-medicare-medigap-guide.pdf, PDF opens new window.
  4. “2020: Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare.”
  5. “2020: Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare.”

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