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When Can I Buy a Medicare Supplement Plan?

Technically, you can try to buy any Medicare Supplement plan at any time. However, if you’re outside of your six-month Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, you may not get the plan you want or any plan.

Why would I need a Medicare Supplement plan?

Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) has no out-of-pocket maximum. That means that if you need extensive medical care, you could face devastating medical bills without supplemental coverage.

A Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan can help protect you from Medicare out-of-pocket costs such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles and minimize your out-of-pocket costs. Keep in mind that you generally will be responsible for a separate premium for your Medicare Supplement coverage. Also keep in mind that Medicare Supplement plans only work with Original Medicare and cannot cover any costs of Medicare Advantage plans.

What is my Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period?

For other types of Medicare Coverage, such as Medicare Advantage plans or Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, you may be able to enroll or switch coverage annually during annual open enroll enrollment periods.

However, for Medicare Supplement, you may only have one Open Enrollment Period in your life. Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period lasts for six months and begins the first day of the month you are both 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B.

During your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, you are protected from medical underwriting. Medical underwriting is where insurance companies analyze data about your health status to determine whether or not to offer you coverage and at what price. If someone with a chronic or serious health condition is subjected to medical underwriting, she may not be able to get insurance at all, not get the insurance she wants, or have to pay a higher price for her insurance.

During your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, insurance companies cannot legally refuse to sell you any Medicare Supplement plan it offers, charge you a higher premium, or delay the start of your coverage.

Can I get a Medicare Supplement plan before or after my Open Enrollment Period?

If you qualify for Medicare through a disability at age 40, for example, you may have to wait 25 years for your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. Some states require that private insurance companies that sell Medicare Supplement plans sell at least one plan to people under 65. People under 65 who qualify for Medicare generally have a disability or serious health condition and insurance companies may view them as more expensive to insure.

You also can apply for a Medicare Supplement plan after your Open Enrollment Period, but keep in mind you generally will have to pass underwriting requirements.

To search for a Medicare Supplement plan in your area, enter you zip code on this page.

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