Open Enrollment for Medigap Plans
The Open Enrollment for Medigap Plans is a one time period of time where you can enroll in any Medicare Supplement. In most states you will not have to answer any medical questions and the insurance companies cannot deny you for any reason. This is an amazing opportunity that does not last forever. This window of time lasts only 6 months, but it is not the same as the open enrollment period that happens each fall. The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period can be different for each individual. This distinction can be quite confusing for some people and vary based on the state you live.
Your personal open enrollment period for Medicare Supplements begins on the first day your Medicare Part B goes into effect and is available for 6 months. The majority of people experience this when they “age into Medicare”. This means, when people turn 65, they become eligible for Medicare and Supplements at the same time. Some people, however, choose to delay enrolling into Medicare Part B if they are still working or have other medical coverage.
People can also qualify for Medicare early because of a disability. This offers them an initial six month open enrollment period that begins with their Part B effective date. When they turn 65 they get an additional 6 month open enrollment window. The reason they get this additional window is that some states do not allow people under the age of 65 access to all Medicare Supplement plans. Some states only allow people under the age of 65 to enroll for Plans A, and then when they turn 65 they have more options such as Plans F and G.
The Benefits of buying during your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Window
During your Medigap Open Enrollment Period is the only time you can enroll in ANY Medicare supplement plan. If you enroll during this one time period you can enroll in plans A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, or N. You get to skip all the different health questions on the application in most states. Regardless of your health the insurance company must issue you coverage during the Open Enrollment window.
The reason that this is so important for some people, is that once this Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period window is over insurance companies can begin to ask health questions on your application. The insurance companies are allowed to accept or decline you for coverage based on your health conditions. Some people have health conditions that would make them unable to sign up for these plans if they miss this window.
Annual Fall Enrollment Period
You may ask what the difference is between the Annual Fall Open Enrollment period and the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. People often believe that they can apply for Medicare Supplement plans without dealing with health questions during the Fall Annual Election Period. This is not true and can be quite a shock to people who did not understand the laws. The Open Enrollment period in the fall only applies to Part D drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans. We often refer to it as the Annual Election Period to try to show the difference between the two Open Enrollment Periods. This can be confusing so we like to refer to this Enrollment period as the Annual Election Period (AEP) to help people keep the two similar sounding, but very different enrollment periods straight.
Annually from October 15th of December 7th the AEP happens. During the AEP people can join or leave their Part D drug plan. They can switch between plans and find the right fit with the right company. People may also switch plans or join or leave their Medicare Advantage plans during this time. The Annual Election Period DOES NOT give you the opportunity to be guaranteed to be issued a Medicare Supplement plan with no health questions. You can apply for a new Medicare Supplement plan any time of year, but in most states you will need to pass a medical screening, answer health questions and go through an underwriting process in order to have the plan issued.
I missed my Medigap Open Enrollment
What if you missed your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment window? Depending on your health conditions you have options! Your best bet would be to contact us to walk through your individual situation. Remember that options can vary by state.
If you cannot pass the health questions choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan is a potential option. A Medicare Advantage Plan only has one health question that most people can pass. So during the next Annual Enrollment Period one could sign up for an Advantage plan. Now someone with major health conditions would likely prefer a Medicare Supplement since you are able to see any doctor on Medicare with no additional co pays. However, a Medicare Advantage plan can help, it will require you to use their network to get the best rates on co pays and out of pocket costs. Even if one needs to go out of network it can still save money over having to pay the coinsurance through Medicare alone.
Often people miss their Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment because they are still employed. Some people enroll in Medicare part A & B to help reduce spending on their group health insurance policies. However, when this happens, you miss your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment window – often by years! Medicare has a law that helps people in this situation. IF the person has maintained credible group health coverage through their employer they are given a 63 day window to purchase a guaranteed issue Medicare Supplement plan. During this 63 day window people can enroll in Medigap plans A, B, C, F, K or L without having any health questions. There should be no concerns about pre-existing health conditions. You will notice that Medigap Plan G was not listed above. If you want to enroll for a Plan G you would still need to apply and go through the underwriting processing including health questions, that is until January 2020. Remember, that some of these things have slight variances by state, so its best to consult with a licensed Medicare Supplement professional to get a personalized plan.
The Best Time to Sign up for a Medigap Plan
The best time to sign up for a Medigap plan is during your Open Enrollment Period, however we have shown you can still apply later on. Please let us know if we can answer questions or help you get started today. We are happy to walk you through your options so you can make a decision based on the most accurate information for YOU. Contact us today to get started.