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Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period


Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is a once in a lifetime window that allows you to enroll in any Medigap plan without answering health questions. This is the best time to enroll since a carrier cannot deny you coverage due to any pre-existing health conditions. However, you can still enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan at any time of the year.

Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period

  • Once in a lifetime window (unless collecting SSDI)
  • Begins the month you become eligible for Medicare and enroll in Part B
  • No health questions during this time frame
  • 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, unless you delay enrollment into Part B due to having other creditable coverage.

Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is not the same as the annual fall enrollment window. With AEP, the dates to enroll are the same every year. With your individual Medigap Open Enrollment Period, the dates are unique to you.

Your individual Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period starts the first day of the month your Part B is in effect.

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 & enroll in Part B. For some; they choose to delay enrolling in Part B due to still working and having creditable coverage with their employer. When they do retire and enroll in Part B, they will initiate their Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period.

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How to Be Proactive with your Medigap Enrollment in 2021

For those who planned and applied for Medicare early, you’ll be given your Medicare claim number before your birthday month.

If you have your Medicare claim number, 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.

Is there an Occasional Secondary Medigap Open Enrollment Period?

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

  1. If you retire, enroll in Part B, then go back to work and join in the 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 one will start with your Part B effective date. The second one 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 that they have minimal options because they’re under 65. Many states are not required to offer all supplement plans to those under 65.

Most states only offer Plan A to those under 65. If they wait to enroll in a Medigap plan when they turn 65 during their second Medigap OEP, they’ll be able to choose from all the programs 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 astronomically high Medigap premiums for those under 65. Once they age into Medicare and their second OEP begins, the rates quoted will be much more affordable.

Can you Enroll Outside your Medigap Open Enrollment Period

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 always 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 do to one reason or another that would qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period.

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

How to Take Advantage of Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period

Timing can affect how much you pay for coverage; how easy coverage is to obtain, and it can significantly determine the options available to you.

The Megiap OEP is the only time you’ll ever get that allows you to enroll in any Medigap letter plan. You’ll be able to avoid having 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 has passed, a carrier can choose to deny you coverage based on your current health status.

Many new beneficiaries may have pre-existing health problems that could end up preventing them from getting coverage.

If they enroll as soon as their first eligible, during the one-time individual open enrollment window, 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 vs. Open Enrollment Period?

The Fall Annual Enrollment Period takes place every year from October 15th through December 7th. During this period, you can enroll, dis-enroll, or change Medicare Advantage as well as Part D prescription drug plans. The majority of new beneficiaries that enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan end up wanting to switch back to Part A & Part B and buy a Medicare Supplement plan. The biggest reason is due to having to stay within the plan’s network of providers and not being able to see their current primary physician.

Many new to Medicare are under the pretense they can enroll in a supplemental plan during the fall Annual Enrollment Period without having to go through medical underwriting questions.

This is one of the biggest misconceptions that causes the most problems for beneficiaries that didn’t have the right resources to educate them on all their enrollment periods. The above is why it’s so important to have a knowledgable agent by your side from the very beginning.

During AEP, you can switch to another Medicare Advantage plan or disenroll from one and enroll back in Part A & Part B. If you return to Original Medicare, you can then enroll in prescription drug plan coverage & 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.

Alternative Options When Denied Medigap Coverage Outside Your Individual OEP

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

What is Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment?
Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is a once in a lifetime window that allows you to enroll in any Medigap plan without answering health questions.
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.
Is there an open enrollment period for Medicare supplement plans?
Yes, the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period begins the first day of the month your both 65, and your Part B is in effect. This period last 6-months.

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.

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Lindsay Engle

Lindsay Engle 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.

8 thoughts on “Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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