Medicare Supplement open enrollment is the name given to the time when you are BOTH 65 or older AND enrolled in Medicare Part B. This time period, which begins on the first day of the month that you meet these criteria (65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B), lasts for 6 months.
During this time period, insurance companies cannot use medical underwriting. This just means that they cannot make you pay more for pre-existing conditions, deny your coverage, or restrict the coverage based on your health. Because this is the case, it is essential that if you are going on Medicare, you sign up for a plan during this time period.
At a later time period, the insurance companies use medical underwriting to determine your eligibility for coverage. This can cause you to be denied coverage or made to pay more because of your health. The individual companies set their own unique underwriting guidelines. These can vary by state and according to state-specific restrictions and variations.
The only way to avoid this uncertainty, altogether, is to sign up during this open enrollment period, when you are first eligible for Medicare.
One consideration that may affect when you sign up is if you plan to work past the age of 65. There are other enrollment rights, called “guaranteed issue” rights, which would allow you to sign up for a Medigap plan later when you retire, if you have been covered by employer insurance.
However, you may want to also consider delaying enrollment in Medicare Part B, if you plan to work past the age of 65. Since both conditions must be met in order to trigger your open enrollment period, being 65 or older AND having Part B, your open enrollment period can also be delayed until the time of your retirement. You should discuss this with your benefits person at your current employer or insurance plan, so that you can understand the implications of how their plan will work with Medicare Part A only. If their coverage is primary to Medicare, delaying Medicare Part B is likely the most advantageous choice.
During open enrollment, you can easily compare Medicare supplement plans, get Medigap quotes from an independent brokerage and make a sound decision on the plan that makes the most sense for you. When you apply, you will not be made to disclose anything about your health, answer medical questions, or take any sort of physical examination to obtain coverage. You simply fill out some general personal information, sign the application to apply, and wait for your card and policy to come in the mail.
On a regular basis, we deal with cases where someone has waited to buy a Medigap plan until after their open enrollment period is up. In many cases, waiting can cause someone to be “stuck” in a situation where they cannot get a plan, or atleast not get the plan they want.
This makes getting a plan during your open enrollment period, no matter what company or broker you get it from, of utmost importance. If we can assist in comparing the plan options, we are happy to do so. We can send quote information by email. To get this information, visit Medicare-Supplement.US or call us at 877.506.3378.