Can I get Medicare Supplement Plans Anytime?
Generally, there is no type of Medicare plan that you can get “any time.” All Medicare coverage, including Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans, is subject to enrollment periods. Other types of Medicare plans, like Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, have open enrollment periods every year. However, Medicare Supplement open enrollment is more limited.
When can I enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan?
The best time to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan may be your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. This period lasts six months and begins the first day of the month in which you are both 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
For example, your birthday is August 31, 1953, so you turn 65 in 2018. You can enroll in Medicare Part B three months before your birthday, so you have Medicare Part B in May 2018. However in May 2018, you’re not 65 yet, so you’re not in the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. The first day of the month that you’re both 65 and older and enrolled in Medicare Part B will be August 1, 2018. Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period would last until February 1, 2019.
The reason the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is important is that insurance companies that offer Medicare Supplement plans can’t use medical underwriting during this time. Medical underwriting considers your health conditions and the costs to cover you and may reject you based on a health problem. During you Medicare Supplement open enrollment period, you could possibly have any health problem and still be accepted into a Medicare Supplement plan.
If you apply for Medicare Supplement after your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is over, the plan may reject your or charge you more based on your health history.
How do I enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan if I am under 65?
Federal law doesn’t require insurance companies to sell Medicare Supplement plans to people under 65 and Medicare beneficiaries under 65 generally don’t have Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Periods. If you are under 65 and have Medicare, you can apply for a Medicare Supplement plan at any time. However, in order to be eligible for Medicare when are you are under 65, you generally must have a disability or serious health condition. A Medicare Supplement plan can consider that disability or health condition and the cost to insure you and reject your application.
Some states have an open enrollment period for eligible individuals under the age of 65. If you are under 65, check with your state insurance department for guidelines.
Are there other times I can enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan?
If you’re outside your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, you may be able to enroll in another Medicare Supplement plan if you have “guaranteed issue” rights. If you have guaranteed issue rights, a plan can’t deny you coverage, refuse to cover your pre-existing conditions, or make you wait for coverage. Some situations that could qualify you for guaranteed issue rights are:
- Your Medicare Supplement plan committed fraud or mislead you
- Your Medicare Supplement plan went bankrupt
- You dropped your Medicare Supplement plan to use your trial right to try a Medicare Advantage plan. Less than a year has passed and you want to switch back.
- Your Medicare Advantage plan stops providing care in your area
- You move out of your Medicare Advantage plan’s service area
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