Medicare Supplements are plans that are designed to fill in the “gaps” in Medicare. Many people get this type of plan, also called Medigap, in order to reduce their exposure to Medicare’s out of pocket costs. The most common times to get a plan like this is when you are turning 65 or going on Medicare for the first time (due to losing employer coverage or something like that).
Often, people who are applying for a Medicare Supplement plan wait until they receive their Medicare card, showing that they have Medicare Parts A and B. This is the preferred way to do it. However, once you have your Medicare card, it is time to apply for the Medigap plan. Each week, we get phone calls or contact from clients or future clients who wish to sign up for a Medigap plan to start next week or the following week. As much as we would like to be able to guarantee them that cover can be approved and card in hand by that point in time, it is typically not possible. On average, with the 25 or so companies we represent, the time from date of application to having insurance card in hand is approximately 10-15 business days – sometimes longer, depending on the company and time of year.
It is highly advisable that, if you are applying for a Medicare Supplement plan, you do it at least 3 weeks before you need the plan to start. When you apply for a plan, you choose your own effective date for a future date. In other words, if you apply May 1, you don’t have to pay “extra” for May, if you don’t want the plan to start until June 1 or July 1. The plan starts when you set the effective date for it to start.
Also, if there is underwriting (i.e. you are not turning 65 but you are replacing another Medicare Supplement policy etc), it could take even longer, and there may be, depending on the company, a phone interview involved.
Put simply, getting a Medicare supplement plan is relatively easy to do, especially if you are in a valid open enrollment or guaranteed issue period. But getting a plan approved within a unrealistically short timeline, due to inactivity or procrastination on your part, is not always possible. Agents do not have the power to “push something through” or make it happen faster with the company.
If you have questions about the process of applying for a Medicare supplement plan or want more information, please contact us on our website or call us at 877.506.3378.