CHA Applauds Maryland’s Efforts to Bring Medigap “Birthday Rule” Right to Consumers

CHA Applauds Maryland’s Efforts to Bring Medigap “Birthday Rule” Right to Consumers

California Health Advocates submitted these two letters of support on behalf of Maryland’s HB 653 and SB 659 which would establish the “birthday rule” for Medicare Supplement insurance (Medigap) for Marylanders. Our state originally adopted this rule more than 20 years ago, and Oregon adopted the same rule about 7 years ago. CHA applauds Maryland’s efforts to extend this right to people in their state who have Medigap policies.

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February 28, 2020

 

 

The Honorable Delegate Kirill Reznik
Maryland State Assembly
Annapolis, MD 21401

The Honorable Senator Delores Kelley
Maryland General Assembly
Annapolis, MD 21401

 

Support: HB 653 & SB 659

 

Dear Delegate Reznik and Senator Kelley:

 

We recently learned of your respective bills, HB 653 & SB 659, that would establish the “birthday rule” for Medicare Supplement insurance (Medigap) for Marylanders. We originally adopted this rule in California more than 20 years ago, and Oregon adopted the same rule about 7 years ago. We applaud your efforts to extend this right to people in Maryland who have Medigap policies.

 

California Health Advocates (CHA) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing quality Medicare, Medicare Supplement, and long-term care insurance information, training, education and technical assistance. CHA has been engaged for decades both in the creation of standardized Medigap policies that became effective in 1992, and the protection of standardization that provides quality, reliable and easily understandable supplement insurance for Medicare beneficiaries.

 

Our experience with the birthday rule has been a positive one for consumers. While Medicare beneficiaries have a guaranteed right to get a Medigap without health underwriting when they are first eligible for Medicare, they can’t always make a change later if their health or circumstances change. The birthday rules allows a policyholder to switch policies during their birthday month for a Medigap with a lower premium cost, helping to protect assets, or trade for a policy from another company that provides better service.

 

The goal of the birthday rule is to allow policyholders to switch coverage for the same or fewer benefits, regardless of their changes in their health status. It helps stabilize premium pricing and avoids dramatic price increases.

 

We support this important consumer protection and thank you for introducing this legislation.

 

Sincerely

Bonnie Burns, Policy Specialist

Karen Fletcher
Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.