What’s the Medicare Supplement Free Look Period?

Steven Mott by Steven Mott | Licensed since 2012
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This article was updated on: 09/16/2018

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What if you want to switch to a different Medicare Supplement plan, but you’re a little concerned that you might be stuck with the new plan and you might not like it as much as your old one? That’s where the Medicare Supplement free look period comes in.

Before getting into the Medicare Supplement free look period, let’s start with a brief summary of Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance. As you may know, Medicare Supplement plans are offered by private insurance companies and are designed to fill in some of Medicare’s coverage “gaps” – that is, some of your out-of-pocket expenses, such as Medicare Part A deductibles, coinsurance and copayments. You can learn more about Medicare Supplement insurance.

How does the Medicare Supplement free look period work?

The free look period is a 30-day period during which you have the new Medicare Supplement plan and your old plan at the same time. The Medicare Supplement free look period lets you try out the new plan and see if it meets your coverage and customer service expectations before you commit to keeping it. This free look period typically begins when you receive your new Medicare Supplement plan coverage.

Using the Medicare Supplement free look period while switching plans

If you’re happy with the coverage and customer service you receive from your Medicare Supplement plan, and you think it’s worth the premium that you pay, you don’t need to take any action to renew your plan. You simply keep your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage, paying your Medicare Part B premium (and your Part A premium if applicable) as well as your Medicare Supplement policy’s premium to keep your coverage in effect year after year. However, if you’re considering a switch to a different Medicare Supplement plan, you may be able to take advantage of the Medicare Supplement free look period.

More about the Medicare Supplement free look period

Contrary to what its name suggests, the Medicare Supplement free look period is not free of charge. During this 30-day period you pay two premiums (besides your Part B and/or Part A premium): one to the insurance company that provides your old Medicare Supplement plan, and the other to the insurer offering the new Medicare Supplement policy.

As you approach the end of the 30-day Medicare Supplement free look period, decide which of the two Medicare Supplement plans you wish to cancel. If you cancel the new Medicare Supplement plan, in some states you might be entitled to a refund for the premium you paid during the free look period. You might want to contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for more information.

When you use the Medicare Supplement free look period, you may want to mark your calendar so that you remember to cancel the policy you don’t want after the end of the period. You may want to keep your old policy until after you’ve had the new one for a full 30 days. After you cancel the old plan, you generally can’t get it back.

It may benefit you to take advantage of the Medicare Supplement free look period

Why might you want to have the coverage –and the cost—of two Medicare Supplement plans the first month of your new plan? The free look period may help you to be sure that you want to make this change before it becomes final, so you can “look before you leap.”

Unless you’re within the first six months of your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period or meet other special circumstances where you have guaranteed-issue rights, you usually don’t have the safety net of guaranteed Medicare Supplement plan coverage. Without this guarantee, insurance companies may require you to complete a health questionnaire or examination before making a decision whether or not to provide coverage to you. As a result:

  • You may not be able to return to your Medicare Supplement plan if you cancel it.
  • Your application for the new Medicare Supplement plan may be turned down.
  • You may have to pay a higher premium for your Medicare Supplement plan.

Help is available if you are considering replacing your Medicare Supplement plan

You may want to replace your existing Medicare Supplement plan with another one for any number of personal reasons. You may find that over time your existing plan doesn’t provide the type of coverage that meets your present needs. Or perhaps you’ve discovered that another insurance company offers a Medicare Supplement plan that provides the same benefits that your current plan provides but charges a lower premium.

Whatever your reason for considering a change in your Medicare Supplement insurance coverage, you are welcome to contact me if you’re thinking about taking advantage of the free look period and would like help evaluating your options. You can schedule a telephone appointment with me or ask me to send you additional information via email by using the link below.  If you want to research Medicare Supplement plans available where you live, use the Compare Plans button on this page.

Medicare Supplement insurance plans are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program.

The product and service descriptions, if any, provided on these eHealth Insurance Web pages are not intended to constitute offers to sell or solicitations in connection with any product or service. All products are not available in all areas and are subject to applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

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