Medicare Supplement open enrollment is the time period during which you can sign up for a Medicare Supplement (also called Medigap) with NO medical underwriting. This means that you cannot be turned down for coverage or made to pay more based on your pre-existing conditions or past health problems. With that in mind, it is essential to understand when this period occurs.
Many people, wondering when is the Medicare Supplement open enrollment period, believe that it happens every year near the end of the year. However, and we may be unraveling years of misinformation here for you, that is NOT correct. This common misconception is fueled by three main factors:
- The enormous amounts of advertising Medicare insurance companies do from September through December. They do this larger amount of advertising during this time period primarily because of factor #2 below.
- Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans DO have an annual enrollment period at the end of each calendar year. In 2016, this enrollment period goes from October 15 to December 7. This is generally the only time that you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage plans (plans that replace Medicare - a privatized version of Medicare) or Part D coverage. This confuses many people who have actual Medicare and a supplement plan into thinking they can also make any changes during this time period. You CAN make the changes, but there are no special enrollment provisions that allow you to get out of underwriting and nothing to prevent you from changing Supplement plans at any other time of the year.
- Lastly, many people believe there is a certain end-of-the-year open enrollment period for Medicare Supplements because they have been used to that with employer-type group insurance. These plans also typically have annual enrollment or change periods that fall around the end of the year.
So, If It Isn't at the End of the Year - When Is the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period?!?!
So, now that we understand that, contrary to popular belief, the Medicare Supplement plans do not have an annual open enrollment period at the end of the year, let's talk about when the enrollment period is. In short, it's year round. You can make any changes or adjustments in company or plan at any time of the year. That said, the companies do use medical underwriting, typically, when you change your Medicare Supplement coverage.
When you first go on Medicare Part B and/or turn 65, you have an initial open enrollment. This lasts for 6 months and allows you to choose a plan with NO medical underwriting. If you do not take advantage of that period, you may not be able to get into a supplement plan at a later time. Or, you can be made to pay more based on your pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately, many people do not realize this initially and either don't get a Medicare supplement at all or choose a Medicare Advantage plan that they are eventually dissatisfied with but are "stuck" in.
When Should I Change My Medicare Supplement?
Since you can change your Medicare supplement at any time of the year, you should consider doing so each time that the policy increases in premium. This is because there are typically other plans that would offer the same plan coverage (plans are Federally-standardized and all work the same way) for less premium. As long as you are in relatively good health, you can make a change at any time and put a little extra money in your pocket.
Medicare Supplement plans are Federally-standardized, meaning that every plan offers the same benefits. In other words, a Plan G with one company is the exact same as a Plan G with a different company. Comparing plans is, or should be, strictly a function of who has the best rates for your age and zip code. However, many people end up paying "extra" with the big "name" companies for absolutely no extra benefits - a plan that covers the same things, works the same way, can be used the same places and pays claims through the same Medicare "crossover".
To get more information about signing up for Medicare Supplements or the Medicare Supplement open enrollment period, please contact us on our website at Medigap Quotes or call us at 877.506.3378.