Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment is a one-time window for you to enroll in any Medigap plan. You will not have to answer any medical questions during this period. Furthermore, the Medicare Supplement insurance companies cannot turn you down during your personal open enrollment period.
This period lasts for 6 months, so be sure not to miss it unless you have other creditable coverage. It’s important to remember, this is not the same as the open enrollment period that happens each fall. Your Open Enrollment date for Medicare supplements depends on when you personally become eligible for Medicare Part B.
Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period:
6 Month Period
Begins the first month once you are in Part B
No health-related questions will be asked
When is my Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment?
Your personal Open Enrollment Period begins the first day of the month in which you are 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B. So if you turn 65 on April 5th, but don’t join Medicare Part B until May 20th, then your personal enrollment period starts on June 1st and lasts 6 months.
Some people qualify for Medicare early due to disability. These people will get an initial six-month open enrollment period starting with the Part B effective date. Later when they turn 65, they will get a second 6-month window. The reason why you will have two open enrollment periods is that some carriers in some states may not sell all the Medigap plans to people under 65. For example, In Texas, if you join Medicare before 65, companies are only required to offer you Plan A. That’s why it’s fair to give you the change to obtain more comprehensive coverage like Plan F or G later on.
Pre-65 Enrollment Window
If you have applied for Medicare early and you already know your Medicare claim number, you may submit your Medigap application before your Part B effective date. It will be seen as open enrollment case and the company will not ask you health questions. We often have clients who lock in their Medigap plan several months in advance of their birthday month. You don’t need to wait until you turn 65.
Should You Buy During Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment?
The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is the only period when you will have all Medicare supplement plans are available to you. If you enroll during this period, you can choose any Medicare Supplement plan – A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M or N. Furthermore, you don’t need to answer any health-related questions. Whether or not you are healthy, your application will be accepted during this period.
Once your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment window ends, the insurance company can ask you to answer medical questions. They can then accept or deny your coverage based on your health. If you have health conditions that might prevent you from getting coverage later, enroll during your Open Enrollment Period.
What About the Annual Enrollment Period?
You cannot enroll in a Medigap plan during the Annual Enrollment Period in the Fall without answering health-related questions.
The Open Enrollment period in the fall only applies to Part D drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans. It is also called the Annual Election Period (AEP) to help differentiate between the two very different periods.
You can apply for a new Medicare Supplement plan any time of year. However, in most states, you must answer health questions and pass medical underwriting to be approved– even during the AEP.
What if I Missed my Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment?
If you miss your Medigap open enrollment and can’t pass the medical underwriting to get a policy, Medicare Advantage plans are an option.
Medicare Advantage plans have only one health question about End-Stage Renal Disease. So during the next AEP, he can join a Medicare Advantage plan in his area.
Although both Medicare Advantage plans and Supplement plans both serve to fill the gaps in Medicare coverage, they are not the same. One key difference is that Medicare Advantage plans usually require that you have a provider network from which you can obtain medical care. However, with a PPO plan, you can still see non-network providers at a higher cost. Supplemental plans allow you to get care from any provider in the country that accepts Medicare.
Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment vs Guaranteed Issue
Many people miss their open enrollment window because they are still working and covered by group health insurance. When they retire a few years later, their Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment window may have passed.
Fortunately, Medicare has a guaranteed issue law in place. As long as you had creditable employer group health coverage, you’ll have a 63-day period to join a supplement plan. During their GI period, you can enroll in Medigap plan A, B, C, F, K or L with no health questions. Don’t worry about pre-existing conditions.
Note that Medigap Plan G is not one of the plans offered under Guaranteed issue rules. If you really want Plan G, you’ll need to apply for it and go through underwriting.