Medicare supplement plans are available for purchase in all 50 states. During your one-time open enrollment window, you are guaranteed the right to purchase Medicare supplement plan. Your health status does not matter. Some features of Medicare supplement plans are:
- You must have Part A and Part B to buy a Medigap policy.
- Medicare supplement plans cover only one person. Your spouse must have his or her own individual policy.
- You can drop your supplement at any time.
- Supplements are guaranteed renewable no matter what health conditions you may develop. They can’t be cancelled due to medical conditions.
- The annual election period in the fall is for drug plans. It does not apply to Medicare supplement plans in any way.
Medicare Supplement – Open Enrollment
Per Medicare’s Guide to Health Insurance, the best time to buy a supplement policy is during your open-enrollment window. This window begins on the first day of your birth month, or the month that you enroll in Part B. It lasts for six months.
During open enrollment, the Medicare supplement company cannot ask you any medical questions. They cannot turn you down for any health conditions. They cannot refuse you a policy or charge you any additional amount due to health conditions, medications or pre-existing illnesses.
After this window passes, however, future insurance companies that you might apply with can accept or decline you based on health. That is why the handbook states that open enrollment is the best time to enroll.
Please note: the Annual Election Period in the fall is NOT a time when you can change Medigap plans with no health questions. Many people mistakenly believe this. The Annual Election period in the fall pertains to your Part D plan, not your Medigap plan.
Medicare Supplement Plans – Guaranteed Issue
Some people delay enrollment into a supplement because they have group health coverage through an employer. Later when you retire or lose that coverage, you have the right to purchase a policy within the 63 days following the loss of your group coverage. The guaranteed issue window works just like open enrollment, except that is a shorter period of time. The insurance company cannot deny your application for any health reasons.
There are some other circumstances which create a guaranteed issue window as well, such as losing Medicare Advantage coverage when moving out of state. Guaranteed issue rules can vary by state, so be sure to check with a licensed agent who can inform you about the laws that apply in your state. Our agency is licensed in over 40 states, so feel free to contact us if you would like for us to check for you.
You will want to keep any notices from your prior carrier that show proof of your creditable coverage for guaranteed issue and also so that you do not incur the Part D late enrollment penalty.
Medicare Supplement Plans- Underwritten
If your window has already passed for open enrollment or guaranteed issue, you can still apply for a Medicare supplement, but you will have to answer some health questions on your application. The insurance company can accept or decline you.
Some people are confused by this because they believe the Annual Drug Election Period in the fall is a time when they can change their supplement without underwriting. Unfortunately, the autumn election period only applies to drug plans. Changing Medigap carriers will require underwriting in most cases.
Medicare Supplement Plan Options
Since there are several standardized plans available to you in each state, you will want to think carefully about which one fits your needs the best. Don’t hesitate to contact our agency for more information and quotes for all of the companies that offer plans in your area. Call (855) 732-9055 below or click below for help.
To continue learning about Medicare and supplements, go to our Medicare Supplement Comparison Chart.