I’m sure you’ve heard that timing is everything, this is especially true with Medicare Supplement insurance and your enrollment options.
Timing can affect how much you pay for coverage; how easy coverage is to obtain, and it can greatly determine the options available to you.
Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period begins the day you turn 65 and are enrolled in Part B. About 10,000 people enroll in Medicare every day, and if enrollment is on the horizon for you, it’s a good idea to know when you can sign up, and when switching Medigap policies is permitted. We’ve assembled this quick guide to help you keep track.
Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period
The months around your 65th birthday is your first opportunity to enroll in Medicare Parts A, B, C and D.
Part A and B are often referred to as “Original Medicare.”
Medicare Advantage Part C is private insurance that provides the same benefits as Parts A and B and may also cover prescription drugs.
Prescription drug plans, Part D, is for people who have Original Medicare. Or for those whose Medicare Advantage plans do not cover prescriptions.
The initial 7-month enrollment period for Traditional Medicare plans begins 3 months before the month you turn 65. Ending 3 months after the month you turn 65.
Your enrollment period for Medicare Supplement plans begins the 1st day of the month your 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
Who is Eligible for Medicare Supplement Insurance?
If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, you may be eligible for a Medigap policy.
For those under 65 with Medicare, you may not be able to enroll in a Medigap policy; federal law doesn’t require states to offer Medigap coverage to beneficiaries under 65.
There are some states that do offer some Medicare Supplement policies to beneficiaries under 65 with disabilities or certain conditions, such as end-stage renal disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Medigap options and eligibility will depend on your specific state, contact an insurance expert to find out if you qualify for Medigap coverage.
What if I Didn’t Enroll in Medicare When I Turned 65
All four Medicare parts have yearly Open Enrollment Periods. During this time anyone can sign up, though you may pay late enrollment penalties if you didn’t enroll when you turned 65. In addition, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
- For Parts A and B, the General Enrollment Period is from January 1 to March 31.
- For Parts C and D, the Annual Election Period is from October 15-December 7.
- If you or your spouse is working, and you’re covered by an employer sponsored health plan, you qualify for Medicare Special Enrollment Period. You can sign up for Medicare anytime, but your Special Enrollment Period ends 8 months after the employment or group health coverage ends. You won’t usually pay a late enrollment penalty during a Special Enrollment Period.
Medigap plans are standardized insurance plans offered by private insurance companies. Policies pay medical and hospital costs that Original Medicare does not cover. You must have Original Medicare to enroll.
What is Medigap Coverage?
If you’re currently receiving Original Medicare, you know there are out-of-pocket expenses like copayments, coinsurances and deductibles that you’re responsible for paying.
Traditional Medicare only covers 80% of your covered healthcare expenses after deductibles are met. Medicare Supplement policies are sometimes called Medigap coverage, these policies help cover what Medicare doesn’t
In other words, these Medigap policies fill the gaps of Original Medicare. These plans may cover things like Medicare Part B excess charges, emergency overseas health coverage, or services that Original Medicare doesn’t cover.
Medigap policies are sold by private insurance companies; Medicare pays its share of the Medicare-approved amount for the covered health care expense, then the Medigap policy pays its share.
Medicare Supplement policies have a monthly premium that you pay in addition to the monthly Part B premium. The Part B premium typically comes out of your Social Security check before you receive it.
Medicare Supplement insurance doesn’t cover everything; many policies won’t cover long-term care, vision or dental care, hearing aids, eyeglasses or private-nursing.
Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period
As I said earlier, timing your enrollment is important, it can affect your coverage options and expenses. The best time to purchase a Medicare Supplement insurance policy is when you’re in the Medigap Open Enrollment Period.
This enrollment period is generally the best time to enroll in a Medigap policy. It’s a 6-month period that starts on the first day of the month that you’re both 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B. During this period, you can enroll in any Medicare Supplement plan offered in your service area with a guaranteed issue.
What is Guaranteed Issue?
Guaranteed issue is a benefit offered to those new to Medicare Part B, and its benefits include:
- Companies can’t charge you a higher premium or deny you coverage based on your medical history.
- You get the best premium rate available with no medical underwriting.
- The insurance company must cover all your pre-existing health conditions.
Other Situations You Might Qualify for Guaranteed-Issue Rights
You probably have a guaranteed issue right if you have other health coverage that changes in some way, like if you involuntarily lost coverage. For some, you qualify for a “trial right” to try a Medicare Advantage plan and still buy a Medicare Supplement if you change your mind.
Examples of situations where you qualify for Guaranteed Issue rights include but aren’t limited to:
- Your Medicare Supplement Insurance company goes bankrupt or misled you.
- Your Medigap coverage ends and it’s not your fault
- You’re enrolled in Traditional Medicare and an employer-sponsored group plan, and your employer coverage is ending.
- You dropped your Medigap plan to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time but changed your mind within the first year and want to return to Original Medicare.
If you are about to lose coverage you may have a Guaranteed Issue right to buy a Medicare Supplement. If you receive any of these things, you need to keep them:
- Letter, notice, email and/or claim denials that have your name on them as proof of your coverage being terminated
- The envelope these papers came in as proof of when it was mailed
These documents may be required when you apply for your Medigap policy to prove you have a guaranteed issue right.
How Long is an Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Supplement Policies
The six-month Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Supplement Policies begins on the first day of the month you’re 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
During this time, insurers cannot turn you down or charge you a higher rate because of preexisting health conditions.
If you don’t enroll during this initial period, you can still apply for coverage anytime. However, you may be denied or may pay a higher premium because of your age or health history.
Why Should You Take Advantage of the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period?
Pre-existing conditions are health issues that existed before the start of a policy. Pre-existing conditions may limit coverage, be excluded from coverage, or even prevent you from being approved for a policy.
The exact definition and exclusions of coverage will vary with each policy, so checking a plan’s official documents to understand how the plan handles pre-existing conditions is important.
Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Deadline
If you missed your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period deadline, you can still apply anytime.
However, you’ll most likely be required to go through medical underwriting and are not guaranteed coverage.
Free Medicare Supplement Information
At MedicareFAQ, we search all the top-rated insurance companies to find you the best rates on Medigap, Part D and Medicare Advantage policies.
Our friendly representatives will give you a fast, free quote and answer all your questions, so you can choose the policy that’s right for your health needs and your budget.
Contact us today for a free Medicare Supplement information by calling the number above or completing our online compare rates form now.