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Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment


Unlike many other Medicare enrollment periods, your Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Open Enrollment Period is unique to you. This window allows you to enroll in any Medigap plan without answering health questions.

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For most, the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period happens once in a lifetime. Thus, it 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 because of pre-existing health conditions.

When Does Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Take Place?

Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment PeriodYour Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period begins the first day of the month your Medicare Part B is in effect. For many beneficiaries, this is the first day of the month they turn 65.

Characteristics of Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment include: 

  • Once-in-a-lifetime window (unless collecting Social Security Disability Income)
  • Begins on your Medicare Part B effective date
  • No health underwriting questions during this time

Applying for a Medigap plan during your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment window offers the opportunity to sign up for any Medicare Supplement plan available in your area for the lowest possible monthly premium cost. It is best to elect coverage during this time. In most cases, after the six-month window closes, you must answer underwriting health questions when applying for Medicare Supplement coverage.

Suppose your Medicare Part B coverage begins April 1. Then, your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period would start on the same day and continue for six months, ending September 30.

Those who delay enrollment in Medicare Part B due to creditable coverage through their large employer group plan will have their Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period when they lose group coverage and enroll in Medicare Part B.

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Preparing for Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment

Those eligible for automatic enrollment in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) or who enroll in Medicare up to three months before their 65th birth month will receive their Medicare ID card in the mail about four weeks after they apply. Once you have your Medicare card, you can apply for Medigap coverage.

Most Medicare Supplement carriers will allow you to submit your Medigap application up to six months before your Medicare Part B effective date. The carrier will process your application as if you are already in your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, with no health questions.

Once you apply for Medicare or know your Medicare Part B effective date, you will not need to wait to enroll in a Medigap plan until you turn 65. With rates constantly changing, we often help our clients lock in their Medigap plan’s monthly premium rate ahead of their 65th birthday. Remember, you cannot receive the policy benefits until you turn 65 and your Medicare Part B coverage is effective.

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

There are very few situations where you can get a second Medigap Open Enrollment opportunity. Below is a list of a few.

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

One reason someone on Medicare due to disability would choose not to enroll during their initial Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment is minimal Medigap plan options available to them. Only some states require Medicare Supplement carriers to offer Medigap options to people under 65.

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In fact, most states only offer Medigap Plan A (or equivalent, minimal coverage) to those under 65. As a result, someone qualifying due to disability may not have many options when first eligible. Allowing for a second Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period gives these beneficiaries access to all plans in their area.

Another reason a beneficiary under 65 wouldn’t enroll in a Medigap plan during their first Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is high premium prices. Unfortunately, most states have astronomical monthly Medigap premiums for those under 65. Once they age into Medicare and their second chance at Open Enrollment begins, the rates quoted will be much more affordable.

Can Medicare Supplement Plans Be Purchased at Any Time?

You can apply for a Medicare Supplement plan at any time. So, even after your Medigap Open Enrollment window closes, you can still enroll. However, you will most likely need to undergo medical underwriting and answer health questions during the application process.

Outside your one-time Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, a carrier can deny you coverage due to pre-existing conditions or health issues. The only way around this is through guaranteed issue rights due to a circumstance that qualifies you for a Special Enrollment Period.

Some states have unique open enrollment rules, such as birthday rules. These rules allow you to enroll in Medigap at certain times without answering health questions.

Making the Most of Your Medigap Open Enrollment

Timing can affect how much you pay for coverage, ease of obtaining coverage, and available options. Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment is the only time most can 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.

If you enroll during your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, no health problems will prevent you from getting coverage. That’s why we strive to educate our clients on the importance of Medicare Supplement enrollment during this unique time.

It is important to note that during your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment, you can only sign up for plans for which you are eligible. This means that if you obtain Original Medicare after January 1, 2020, you do not qualify for Medicare Supplement Plan F, High Deductible Plan F, or Plan C.

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What is the Difference Between the Annual Enrollment Period and Medigap Open Enrollment?

Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment is not the same as the Medicare Annual Election Period in the fall. The latter pertains to Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D, and the dates are the same every year. Medigap Open Enrollment is unique to you, generally only happens once in your lifetime, and only concerns Medicare Supplement selection.

Many new beneficiaries think they can enroll in a Medigap plan and bypass health questions during the Annual Enrollment Period. However, this is not the case.

This is one of the biggest misconceptions and causes the most problems for beneficiaries. It is also why it is vital to know about Medicare enrollment periods.

One option during the Annual Enrollment Period is to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare. This lets you enroll in Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage and Medigap. However, you may need to go through the underwriting process and face denial due to pre-existing conditions.

What if I Miss My Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment?

If you miss your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment window and face denial of coverage, you still have options.

If you have a severe health condition that causes a Medigap carrier to deny you, you will usually have Medicare Advantage plan options in your area. However, you will need to wait until the Annual Enrollment Period to sign up for one of these plans.

Once you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you must stay within the plan’s network of doctors. A Medicare Advantage PPO plan will give you the best chance to keep your current practitioners.

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How to Get Help During Your Medigap Open Enrollment

At MedicareFAQ, our agents are dedicated to helping you find the best Medicare coverage possible. They can educate you on all the different enrollment periods to ensure 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 are happy to answer all your questions and walk you through the Medigap underwriting health questions to see if you qualify. Once you enroll with our agents, you will have unlimited access to our Client Support Team.

We're ready to help! Contact us by calling the number above or use our rate comparison tool to see premiums near you now.

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Sources:

MedicareFAQ is dedicated to providing you with authentic and trustworthy Medicare information. We have strict sourcing guidelines and work diligently to serve our readers with accurate and up-to-date content.

  1. Medigap Open Enrollment, Medicare . Accessed September 2022.
    https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-other-insurance/when-can-i-buy-medigap

Jagger Esch

Jagger Esch is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ and the founder, president, and CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and MedicareFAQ.com. Since the inception of his first company in 2012, he has been dedicated to helping those eligible for Medicare by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their Medicare options. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare.

34 thoughts on “Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment

  1. 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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