Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment

When is Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment?

The best time to buy a Medicare Supplement policy is up to 6 months before your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period begins.

Although Medicare gives you a one-time six-month enrollment window to purchase a Medicare Supplement plan (when you’re 65 or older and enrolling in Part B for the first time), strategically, the best time to purchase Medicare Supplement insurance is six months before your official enrollment period begins.

In other words, the best time to purchase a Medicare Supplement plan is six months before the month you turn 65. Enrolling during this time frame is crucial because Medicare Supplement insurance companies are generally allowed to use medical underwriting to decide whether to accept your application and how much to charge you for the Medicare Supplement policy, so you will need to have already determined which Medicare Supplement plan you will have working for you in advance of the effective date.

During your Medigap Open Enrollment Period you can buy any Medicare Supplement policy, even if your health is less than perfect, for the same price as people with excellent health. Remember, your Medigap Open Enrollment Period is only offered to you one time, when you are 65 or older and enrolling in Part B for the first time. Once this enrollment window closes you may be subject to underwriting guidelines resulting in higher premiums or denial of coverage.

Guaranteed Issue Rights

Guaranteed issue rights (or “Medigap Protections”) are your rights in certain situations when insurance companies must offer you certain Medicare Supplement policies. This is separate from your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. In these situations, an insurance company must sell you a Medicare Supplement policy, must cover all your pre-existing health conditions, and cannot charge you more for a policy because of past or present health problems.

You can buy Medicare Supplement Plan A, B, *C, D, *F, G, K, or L that is sold in your state by any insurance company if:

  • You leave a Medicare Advantage Plan or drop a Medicare Supplement policy because the company hasn’t followed the rules, or it misled you.
  • Your Medicare Supplement insurance company goes bankrupt and you lose your coverage, or your Medicare Supplement policy coverage otherwise ends through no fault of your own.
  • You have Original Medicare and a Medicare SELECT policy. You move out of the Medicare SELECT policy’s service area. You can keep your Medicare Supplement policy, or you may want to switch to another Medicare Supplement policy.
  • You have Original Medicare and an employer group health plan (including retiree or COBRA coverage) or union coverage that pays after Medicare pays and that plan is ending. If you have COBRA coverage, you can either buy a Medicare Supplement policy right away or wait until the COBRA coverage ends.
  • You are in a Medicare Advantage Plan, and your plan is leaving Medicare or stops giving care in your area, or you move out of the plan’s service area. You only have this right if you switch to Original Medicare rather than joining another Medicare Advantage Plan

*If you qualify for a Medicare Supplement after January 1, 2020, Medicare Supplement Plans C and F will not be available. It is possible to be able to buy one of these plans, should you qualify before January 1, 2020. If you currently have a Medicare Supplement Plan C or F, you do not have to give up your plan.

Trial Right Period

In most cases, you have a guaranteed issue right when you have other health coverage that changes in some way, like when you lose the other health care coverage. In other cases, you have a “Trial Right” to try a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) and still buy a Medicare Supplement policy if you change your mind. The Trial Right period lasts for one year and only occurs the first year you enroll in a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan.

If you joined a Medicare Advantage Plan or Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) when you were first eligible for Medicare Part A at 65, and within the first year of joining, you decide you want to switch to Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), you can buy any Medicare Supplement policy that is sold in your state by any insurance company.

If you dropped a Medicare Supplement policy to join a Medicare Advantage Plan (or to switch to a Medicare SELECT policy) for the first time and you have been in the plan less than a year, and you want to switch back, you can buy a Medicare Supplement policy you had before you joined the Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare SELECT policy if the same insurance company you had before still sells it. If your former Medicare Supplement policy isn’t available, you can buy a Medicare Supplement Plan (A, B, *C, D, *F, G, K or L) that are sold in your state by any insurance company.

*If you qualify for a Medicare Supplement after January 1, 2020, Medicare Supplement Plans C and F will not be available. It is possible to be able to buy one of these plans, should you qualify before January 1, 2020. If you currently have a Medicare Supplement Plan C or F, you do not have to give up your plan.

When Can I Apply Under My Trial Right Period?

You can exercise your Trial Right Period to choose a Medicare Supplement Plan as early as 60 calendar days before the date your coverage will end but no later than 63 calendar days after your coverage ends.

When is My Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Window?

Once you are enrolled in Part B, you have a six-month Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Window. During this period, you have a guaranteed right to buy any Medicare Supplement policy sold in your state regardless of your health condition.

This six-month enrollment window begins on the first day of the month that your Part B becomes effective. However, Medicare Supplement insurance companies allow you to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan up to six months before your official enrollment period begins.

This means you can compare different plans and even purchase a Medicare Supplement policy for up to six months (180 days) before your 65th birth month. Your selected plan will go into effect the month you turn 65 and are enrolled in Part B.

If you wait until after turning 65 or after your Part B is effective to shop around for a Medicare Supplement plan and you end up going to the hospital or doctor, you may end up paying out of pocket medical bills that would have otherwise been covered by having a Medicare Supplement plan in place on the first month of eligibility.

When is My Medicare Part B Enrollment Window?

You have a seven-month window to enroll in Medicare for the first time in Medicare Part B beginning three months before the month you turn 65 until three months after your birth month; a total of seven months. This is known as your Initial Enrollment Period. If you miss this window you may end up paying Part B late enrollment penalties.

Because Medicare Part B has a monthly premium, some people choose to delay enrollment if they are already covered under a different plan, such as an employer group health plan (either your own or your spouse’s).

If you delay Medicare Part B enrollment because of coverage under a current employer, you can qualify for a Special Enrollment Period when this group coverage ends and will not be subject to Part B late enrollment penalties.

Many people choose to cancel their employer’s health plan and enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan because Medicare Supplement plans are more cost-effective and generally have little or no co-pays, co-insurance, or deductibles.

After My Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, When Will My Coverage Start?

Now that the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period is over, when will my coverage start?

After purchasing a Medicare Supplement policy your coverage will begin on the first day of the month you turn 65 and are enrolled in Part B.

Remember not to wait for something to happen before exploring your Medicare Supplement options. Shop for your best options in advance of your eligibility and decide what you will want to have in place before you need it. Start shopping early and enroll as soon as you are eligible (6 months prior to your 65th birth month.) Have your coverage working for you the very first day of your birth month or the month your Part B is in effect.

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Category: MedicareMedicare Supplements (Medigap)
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