If you're looking to sign up for a Medicare Supplement policy, there's some important information you should know ahead of time.
Signing Up for a Medicare Supplement Policy
If you're currently enrolled in Original Medicare Part A and B, you're typically automatically eligible to apply for a Medicare Supplement plan.
A Medicare Supplement plan works alongside your Original Medicare to help cover expenses Original Medicare may not be able to cover such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.1 To figure out your specific Medicare coverage, refer to your Medicare Explanation of Benefits Guide.
A Medicare Supplement plan comes in handy as it can help pay for specific costs that aren't included in Original Medicare, such as emergency overseas health coverage, paying for Medicare Part B excess charges, and cost sharing1 depending on the plan chosen.
Medicare Supplement Policy Eligibility and Options
It's important to note there may be restrictions when it comes to enrolling in a Medicare Supplement plan. If you're under age 65 and have Original Medicare, you may not be able to enroll in Medicare Supplement.2 Federal law does not require insurance companies to offer Medicare Supplement insurance coverage to Medicare beneficiaries under age 652; however, some states require insurance companies to offer certain plans to applicants under age 65 on Medicare due to special circumstances.
Eligibility ultimately depends on your state, so check with your state's insurance department for specific guidelines.
Medicare Supplement Policy Open Enrollment Period
If you're eligible for a Medicare Supplement plan, your next step would be to figure out when your Open Enrollment period takes place.
Typically, there is a six-month period for Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment.1 It starts on the first day of the month that you're 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B.3
Timing is important when it comes to enrolling in a Medicare Supplement insurance policy. The time in which you sign up for coverage can significantly affect availability, because the Open Enrollment period is more limited than the Original Medicare Open Enrollment period.2
It's important to note different states may have special enrollment periods. Check your state's guidelines for specific guidelines on when your Open Enrollment period is.
Additionally, timing can impact costs and whether companies can deny you coverage all together based on pre-existing conditions.1
If You Missed Your Open Enrollment Period
If you miss your Open Enrollment period it is still possible to find coverage, but it can become more difficult. Outside of the standard six-month Open Enrollment period, a Medicare Supplement policy could: come at a higher premium, be subject to underwriting, or coverage might not be available at all.1
There is still a possibility of enrolling with Guaranteed Issue rights, depending on certain situations. These situations may include, but are not limited to, involuntary loss of certain insurance coverage such as employer coverage or Medicare Advantage, or your insurance company going bankrupt or misleading you.1
With Guaranteed Issue rights, you may have the ability to enroll in certain Medicare Supplement plans offered in your service area.2
Again, eligibility for a Guaranteed Issue Medicare Supplement policy ultimately depends on your state, so check with your state's insurance department consumer affairs for specific guidelines.
In the event you've completely missed or are denied coverage, know there are other options.
Alternatives to Medicare Supplement Insurance Coverage
One alternative to Medicare Supplement insurance coverage is a Medicare Advantage plan.
Differences in these two types of coverage include that a Medicare Supplement insurance policy has no service areas, whereas a Medicare Advantage plan does have service areas,4 and may have network physicians, where you may not be able to see your doctor of choice. In addition, Medicare Supplement insurance is guaranteed renewable, which means your policy can't be canceled if premiums are paid on time. Medicare Advantage, on the other hand, is renewed every year, which means the plan may either continue coverage or non-renew its policyholders.
If you're interested in enrolling in a Medicare Supplement plan, contact your insurance company or a licensed insurance Agent for more information.
Your style is your choice. Shouldn't your doctor and your coverage be, too?
Learn more about Medicare Supplement insurance options.
1 Ehealthinsurance.com, Medicare Supplement Insurance Enrollment, 2019
2 Ehealthinsurance.com, Can I Get Medicare Supplement Plans Anytime?, 2019
3 Medicare.gov, When Can I Buy Medigap?, 2019
4 Medicareinteractive.org, Medigap Purchasing Details: Enrollment Periods, Guaranteed Issue, and More, 2019