Close close icon

Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period


Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period allows you to enroll in any Medigap plan without answering health questions. This window happens once in your life and is the best time to sign up for a Medicare Supplement plan. Although you can still sign up for a Medigap plan at any time of the year, your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period prohibits carriers from denying you coverage due to any pre-existing health conditions.

What is the Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Supplement Plans?

  • Once-in-a-lifetime window (unless collecting SSDI)
  • Begins the same day as your Part B effective date
  • No health questions during this time
  • Not the same as the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period

Applying outside your open enrollment window can result in higher premiums, as well as restrict your coverage options. This window only lasts for six months for each new beneficiary.

Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is not the same as the fall Annual Election Period. AEP pertains to Medicare Advantage and Part D plans and the dates are the same every year. With your individual Medigap Open Enrollment Period, the dates are unique to you and it only concerns Medicare Supplement plans.

Your individual Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period starts the first day of the month your Part B is in effect. You must also be 65 for this window to begin. For example, if your Part B coverage begins April 1st, then your individual Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period window will start then and continue for six months, ending September 30th.

For most, this period starts when they age into Medicare at 65 and enroll in Part B. Yet, others choose to delay enrolling in Part B due to creditable coverage through their large employer group plan. When they do retire and enroll in Part B, their Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period will commence on their Part B effective date.

 Listen to this Podcast Episode Now!
 

Preparing for Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment

Those who plan and apply for Medicare early will receive their Medicare card before their 65th birthday month. If you have your Medicare card, we can submit your Medigap application before your Part B effective date. The carrier will process your application as if you’re already in your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, with no health questions.

Once you apply for Medicare, there’s no need to wait to enroll in a supplement plan until you turn 65. With rates constantly changing, we often help our clients lock in their Medigap plan months before their 65th birthday. Keep in mind, you won’t be able to buy the policy until you’re 65 and have Part B.

Do Some People Get a Second Open Enrollment Period for Medigap?

There are very few situations where a beneficiary will get a second Medigap Open Enrollment Period.

  1. If you retire, enroll in Part B, then go back to work and join your employer’s group healthcare coverage, you’ll get a second Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period when you retire again and enroll back into Part B.
  2. If you get Medicare due to a disability under 65, you’ll get two Medigap Open Enrollment Periods. The first will start with your original Part B effective date before you turn 65. The second will begin when you turn 65.

One reason a beneficiary on Medicare due to disability would choose not to enroll during their first Medigap OEP is having minimal options due to their age. Not all states require carriers to offer at least one Medigap plan to people under 65.

In fact, most states with the requirement only offer Plan A (or equivalent, minimal coverage) to those under 65. If someone who originally qualified due to disability waits to enroll in a Medigap plan until they turn 65, they’ll be able to choose from all the policies available to them in their state.

Another reason a beneficiary on Medicare collecting SSDI would not enroll in a Medigap plan during their first Medicare Supplement OEP is that the premiums are too expensive. Unfortunately, most states have astronomical Medigap premiums for those under 65. Once they age into Medicare and their second OEP begins, the rates quoted will be much more affordable.

When Can You Sign Up for Medicare Supplement Plans?

When it comes to Medicare Supplement plans, you can join at any time of the year. If your Open Enrollment window has passed, you can still apply. However, you’ll most likely have to go through medical underwriting and answer health questions during the application process.

Outside your one-time open enrollment window, a carrier can deny you coverage due to pre-existing conditions or health issues. The only way around this is if you’re granted guaranteed issue rights due to a circumstance that would qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period.

Some states have unique open enrollment rules, like Connecticut and California. California has a birthday rule that allows you to enroll in Medigap around your birthday each year, without answering health questions. In Connecticut, there is a year-round open enrollment window for all beneficiaries. So if you live in one of these states, you have a unique benefit that most beneficiaries don’t!

Making the Most of Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period

Timing can affect how much you pay for coverage, how easy coverage is to obtain, and it can what options are available to you. The Megiap OEP is the only time that allows you to enroll in any Medigap letter plan without needing to answer any health questions. By law, the carrier must approve your application for coverage, regardless of any health issues.

After your individual Medigap Open Enrollment Period ends, a carrier can choose to deny you coverage based on your current health status. Many new beneficiaries have pre-existing health problems that could end up preventing them from getting coverage.

If you enroll during your Medicare Supplement Open enrollment period, these health problems will not prevent them from getting coverage. That’s why we strive to educate our clients on the importance of enrolling during this once-in-a-lifetime window.

What’s the Difference Between the Fall Annual Enrollment Period and Medigap Open Enrollment Period?

The Fall Annual Enrollment Period takes place every year from October 15 through December 7. During this period, you can enroll, disenroll, or change Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans. The majority of new beneficiaries that enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan end up wanting to switch back to Original Medicare (Parts A and B) and pair it with a Medicare Supplement plan. The biggest reason is not being able to see their current primary physician due to the restrictive provider networks Advantage plans involve.

Many new to Medicare are under the impression that they can enroll in a Medigap plan and bypass health questions during the fall Annual Enrollment Period.

This is one of the biggest misconceptions and causes the most problems for beneficiaries, and why knowledge of enrollment periods is so important. During AEP, you can switch to another Medicare Advantage plan or disenroll from one and enroll back in Original Medicare. If you return to Original Medicare, you can then enroll in prescription drug plan coverage and Medigap.

If you do enroll in an Advantage plan at any point during the year, you’ll have an opportunity to make changes to it annually during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.

What if I Miss My Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period?

When you miss your Medigap Open Enrollment Period and are denied coverage, there are alternative options. If you have a serious health condition that causes a Medigap carrier not to accept you, you should be able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Advantage plans only have one health question, and most applicants can pass. However, you’ll have to wait until the fall enrollment period to sign up for one of these plans.

You’ll be required to stay within the plan’s network of doctors. However, if you’re willing to pay more for a PPO plan that gives you access to doctors outside their network, you may be able to keep the same doctor.

FAQs

When does Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment take place?
Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is unique to you and begins the first day of the month your Part B is effective. This window lasts for six months and is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enroll in any Medicare Supplement plan without the need to answer health questions and undergo the medical underwriting process.
How long is Open Enrollment for Medicare Supplement policies?
Your Medicare Supplement Enrollment Period will last six months.
Can you be denied Medicare Supplemental insurance?
If you don’t sign up during your Open Enrollment Period, carriers can turn you down due to pre-existing conditions or disabilities.
Can you enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan at any time?
Yes, however, if you’re outside your Open Enrollment Period, you’ll have to answer health questions.

How to Get Help During Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period

At MedicareFAQ, our agents truly care about you. They'll be able to teach you on all the different enrollment periods to make sure you don't miss out. If you're already outside your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, we're still here to help you find a plan.

Our agents will be more than happy to answer all your questions and walk you through the health questions to see if you qualify. Our clients also get unlimited support from our Client Care Team.

If you have any issues with claims, appeals, Part D, or want to rate shop, they're by your side. Contact us by calling the number above or use our rate comparison tool to see premiums near you now.

Enter Zipcode

Enter your zip code to pull plan options available in your area.

Compare Plans

Select which Medicare plans you would like to compare in your area.

Get Quote

Compare rates side by side with plans & carriers available in your area.

Lindsay Malzone

Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ. She has been working in the Medicare industry since 2017. She is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare. You can also find her over on our Medicare Channel on YouTube as well as contributing to our Medicare Community on Facebook.

20 thoughts on “Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period

  1. I am under 65 and I have Medicare Advantage Plan due to disability, I will turn 65 in September 2021, is it correct that my Medigap Open Enrollment Periods can start September 1st 2021 and last for 6 months which will end February 28th 2022? Another word, I can keep my current Advantage plan for this year and come to the Advantage annual open enrollment period 10/15-12/07 I can decide if I want to continue with Advantage or switch to Medigap for next year without have to answer any health questions?

    1. Hi Jacob! The first part of your question is correct. Your second Medigap OEP will begin on September 1st & last for 6-months. During this time, you will NOT have to answer any health questions. However, outside this window, you WILL have to answer health questions. So to answer the second half of your question, you can switch from Advantage to Medigap during the Annual Enrollment Period in 2022, however, you will have to answer health questions since you will no longer be in your Medigap OEP. I would HIGHLY recommend you use your Medigap OEP to enroll in a Medigap plan since you may never be able to get one once this window has passed. I hope this helps!

  2. If I enroll in Medicare Part B, on or within a few days after my 65th birthday, as it comes late in the month, will I incur any penalties when Part B goes into effect, possibly a few months later, or does that acceptance go into immediate effect on the actual date in which I enroll?

  3. If I am in my 6mo Open Enrollment Medicare Supplement Period, but I had already signed up for a Medicare Advantage Plan, can I still switch to a Medigap Plan?

    1. Hi Sharon! Yes, you can still switch to a Medigap plan even if you enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan as long as you are still within your 6-month OEP.

  4. Question. My son had Medicare part A, B and D and a supplemental plan (he is under 65). His spouse was checking Medicare advantage plans this last year and she enrolled him in a Medicare advantage plan which was a HMO. Not good for him because of his number of specialist and hospitalizations. When she call the 800 number back they said that the previous person should have never put him in an HMO Medicare advantage plan and he should re-enroll in part D and that would cancel his Medicare advantage plan and he would be able to re-enroll in a Medicare supplemental plan. She did this and the Medicare supplemental plans say he can not enroll in a supplemental plan and he ia sh$# out of luck. Does anyone have an answer to this?

    1. Hi Kevin. Unfortunately, the information you were given is correct. Your son will have a second Open Enrollment Period to enroll in a Medigap plan when he turns 65. The annual Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period ends March 31st. He has until then to possibly switch to another Advantage plan that includes more of his doctors in the network of the plan. However, he will not be able to enroll in a Part D plan until the next Annual Enrollment Period in October.

  5. Hi, turning 65 this August and still working. If I choose Medicare Advantage, then drop it after a year in favor of plan B and supplemental, will I face health questions, and a higher premium when I enroll?

    If so, I would prefer to stay on my employers health plan (credible) for another year, Assuming I don’t get laid off or terminated.

    These are my two choices. What are your thoughts? Thank you.

  6. Hello,
    May I switch plans durning my own personal 6 month open enrollment?
    Or do I only get to enroll in one plan?

    1. Hi Linda! During your own Medigap Open Enrollment Period, you can switch plans as many times as you like. You can even switch plans after your enrollment window. You’ll just have to answer health questions.

  7. I am turning 65 in February, 2020 I am currently working and have insurance coverage from my employer, I do not plan to retire until I am 66 or 67. I have pre-existing health conditions. My question is should I file for Medicare Supplement during the Annual Enrollment Period now prior to my 65th birthday in order to avoid medical questions and possible denial of coverage. I have medical insurance through my employer and it seems that I would be paying premiums for an additional coverage Medicare Supplement just to avoid answering medical questions. Can you advise if I should file AEP now or wait?

    1. Hi Wayne. The Annual Enrollment Period is not for Medigap, it’s for Medicare Advantage and Part D beneficiaries to make changes. As long as your employer has more than 20 employees, your group coverage is creditable. You can delay enrolling in Part B without penalty. Once you leave your group coverage, you’ll get a Special Enrollment Period to enroll in Part B. Once your Part B is active, your 6-month OEP for Medigap will begin. That is when you can enroll without answering health questions.

  8. I am a Connecticut resident currently enrolled in an Advantage Program and would like to know if I can enroll in a supplement program at any time during the year without penalty? I have no health issues and the only reason I am considering the supplement is the availability of doctors in the state that I may relocate to.

    1. Hi Emily! Yes, there are no penalties when it comes to Medicare Supplement plans. You can enroll at any time of the year. You can drop your Advantage plan now and enroll in a Medigap plan. If you don’t have any health issues, you should have no problem enrolling.

  9. HI Lindsay , I will 65 yrs old on March 26 , I am divorced and mi primary insurance is Blue Cross through my husband company, it is finished in about a month when the divorce end . My secondary insurance is Medicare part A and B , I am in disability . What is the best plan you can recommended ? I need good cover for my medical condition.

    1. Hi Martha! I would recommend speaking with an agent to get help with your situation since it’s very unique. You could keep your Part A and Part B only until you turn 65. You will be responsible for 20% of any outpatient services and deductibles that fall under Part A & B if you go to the hospital or doctor. You could also enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan between the time you lose group coverage and turn 65 if your state offers them to those under 65. The month of your birthday, your Medigap Open Enrollment Period will begin. Use this enrollment window to enroll in a Medigap plan and leave your Medicare Advantage plan if you did enroll in one. If you miss your OEP to enroll in Medigap, your disability could prevent you from ever enrolling in one. That’s why it’s crucial you enroll in a Medigap plan during your Open Enrollment Period starting in March. Again, I would advise you to speak to one of our agents to assist you.

  10. i have employer insuracnce and have enrolled in part b my employers insurance pays first and medicare second when i retire can i get a supplement without having to answer healh questions in NC

    1. Hi Mary Ann! Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period becomes active once you have Part B. If you enrolled in Part B, you have 6-months from when it became active to enroll in a Medigap plan without answering health questions. If you already have Part B and plan to retire later in the future, you will have to answer health questions to enroll in a supplement.

Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *