The Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Open Enrollment Period is unique to each Medicare beneficiary. This enrollment period allows you to enroll in any Medigap plan without answering health questions. For most beneficiaries, this 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.
Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Supplement Plans
- Once-in-a-lifetime window (unless collecting SSDI)
- Begins the same day as your Medicare Part B effective date
- No health underwriting questions during this time
Applying for a Medigap plan during your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period offers the opportunity to enroll in any Medigap plan available in your area, for the lowest possible monthly premium cost. It’s best to elect coverage during this time. After the six-month window closes, most beneficiaries must answer underwriting health questions when applying for Medicare Supplemental coverage.
Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period starts 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.
Let’s say your Medicare Part B coverage begins April 1. Your individual Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period window would start on that day and continue for six months, ending September 30.
Those who choose to delay enrollment in Medicare Part B due to creditable coverage through their large employer group plan will receive their Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period when they lose group coverage and enroll in Medicare Part B.
Preparing for Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period
Those eligible for automatic enrollment to Original Medicare or who enroll in Medicare up to three months before their 65th birth month will receive their Medicare ID card in the mail about 4 weeks after they apply. Once you have your Medicare card, you can begin the process of applying for Medigap coverage.
Most Medicare Supplement carriers will allow Medicare beneficiaries to submit their Medigap application up to six months before their Medicare 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 or know your Medicare Part B effective date, 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 ahead of their 65th birthday. Keep in mind, you won’t be able to receive the policy benefits until you’re 65 and have Medicare Part B.
Do Some People Get a Second Open Enrollment Period for Medigap?
There are very few situations where a beneficiary will get a second Medigap Open Enrollment Period. 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’ll 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 when you’re under 65, you’ll get two Medigap Open Enrollment Periods. The first will start with your Original Medicare Part B effective date before you turn 65. The second will begin when you turn 65.
One reason a beneficiary on Medicare due to disability would choose not to enroll during their first Medigap Open Enrollment Period is due to the minimal Medigap plan options available to them. Only certain states require Medicare Supplement carriers to offer Medigap plans to people under 65.
In fact, most states only offer Plan A (or equivalent, minimal coverage) to those under 65. Because of this, 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 Open Enrollment Period begins, the rates quoted will be much more affordable.
When Can You Sign Up for Medicare Supplement Plans?
When it comes to Medicare Supplement plans, you can apply any time throughout the year. So, even if your Open Enrollment window has passed, you can still enroll. However, you’ll most likely need to go through 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 Period
Timing can affect how much you pay for coverage, ease of obtaining coverage, and the options available to you. The Medigap Open Enrollment Period 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 enrolling during this unique window.
Keep in mind, during your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, you can only enroll in plans for which you are eligible. This means that if you enrolled in Original Medicare after January 1, 2020, you are not eligible to enroll in Medigap Plan F, High Deductible Plan F, or Medigap Plan C.
What’s the Difference Between the Annual Enrollment Period and Medigap Open Enrollment Period?
Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is not the same as the Annual Election Period in the fall. The latter pertains to Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans and the dates are the same every year. Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period is unique to you, 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 isn’t the case.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions and causes the most problems for beneficiaries. It’s also why it’s so important to know about enrollment periods. One option during the Annual Enrollment Period is to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare. This allows the beneficiary to enroll in prescription drug plan coverage and Medigap.
What if I Miss My Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period?
Don’t worry if you happen to miss your Medigap Open Enrollment Period and face denial of coverage. You still have options.
If you have a serious health condition that causes a Medigap carrier to deny you, you should be able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. However, you’ll need to wait until the Annual Enrollment Period to sign up for one of these plans.
Once on a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll need to stay within the plan’s network of doctors. However, you may be able to keep the same doctor if you switch to a Medicare Advantage PPO plan.
How to Get Help During Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period
At MedicareFAQ, our agents are dedicated to helping you find the best Medicare coverage possible. They are able to educate 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 are more than happy to answer all your questions and walk you through the health questions to see if you qualify. Once you enroll with our agents, you will have unlimited access to our Client Support Team.
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