What Are My Medicare Rights If I Cancel Medicare?

Patients decide to leave their Medicare plans for a variety of reasons. These can include dissatisfaction with coverage, high co-payments and provider access problems. However, none of these reasons is considered a "good" reason to cancel Medicare. Voluntarily leaving Medicare altogether without a Medicare approval in writing may put you in a pretty fine pickle later on if you are in need of any type of medical care.

There are many cases where a person can leave Medicare and return at a later time. A person may also want to leave a Medicare plan because they or their spouse has a new job or has returned to work and they now have access to insurance through their place of employment. A Medicare recipient may also move out of the area and need to find a new provider. If you are leaving your Medicare plan to switch to another Medicare plan for any of these reasons you have a right to a new Medicare plan and coverage provided you follow the deadlines and guidelines outlined by Medicare.

When you initially join Medicare your have what are known as "Guaranteed Issue Rights." This means that the privately run sections of Medicare (PART C, D and Medigap Plans) must accept you without underwriting. In most cases you can join regardless of your age, health or prior conditions. If you voluntarily cancel Medicare you are no longer protected by your Guaranteed Issue Rights if you want to return to Medicare in the future. These issue rights impact not only your ability to get insurance but also how much these private insurers can charge you for that insurance.

Auntie Lou says, "Don't cancel Medicare until you're dead."

Medicare Parts B, C, D and Medigap Plans all require premiums, co-pays and deductibles. These can be very expensive for any senior and they may cause you to think about canceling your Medicare coverage. Rather than canceling, look into the Extra Help available for paying for Medicare and look into an alternative plan that may save you money every month based upon your particular needs. Call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) TTY users call 1-877-486-2048 to get further information about getting Extra Help.