So, you’ve evaluated your options. Medicare Supplement sounds great, but it costs more than you want to pay just now – you’ll just sign up later when you need it…
Sure, only if you’re comfortable with potentially getting denied coverage – Medicare Supplement plans are private gap insurance products that are not tied to the federal government. Therefore, insurers can deny you coverage, charge you more based on health, and ask health questions before allowing you to buy a policy.
In most states, there is only one opportunity to buy a Medicare Supplement plan without the risk of getting denied – this is called the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period.
Why Choose Medicare Supplement?
Medicare Supplement plans are often considered ‘Cadillac’ plans because of the generous coverage they provide. These plans work alongside Original Medicare:
- You pay a monthly premium in the range of $90 – $300+ per month in addition to your Part B premium ($170 p/m in 2022 or higher, depending on income)
- They are considered ‘Cadillac’ plans as you have little to no out-of-pocket obligations when you use any services
- You can also visit any doctor in the U.S. without referrals – unlike some Medicare Advantage plans
Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period
The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period is also known as a ‘guaranteed issue’ period and is the best time to purchase a Medicare Supplement policy if you are considering this type of plan. During this period, insurance companies:
- Must sell you a policy without medical or health questions
- Cannot deny you coverage
- Cannot charge you an additional premium for coverage because of your medical history
When is the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period?
The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is:
For most people, this occurs when you first turn 65. However, if you are working past 65, this will happen when you stop working.
Are there any other ‘Guaranteed Issue’ periods?
Yes – but only in very special circumstances.
There are very few events where you will receive another guaranteed issue right, such as if your Medicare Supplement company stops operating or providing coverage. Another is if you dropped a Medicare Supplement policy to join a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time, and you want to switch back in the first 12 months (also known as ‘trial right’). In addition, a few states have additional guaranteed issue windows beyond federal requirements.
Bottom Line: You can’t just enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan when ‘you’re ready’
If you’re turning 65, make sure to properly weigh your options if you consider a Medicare Supplement plan at all. Your best opportunity to buy a Medicare Supplement plan is to enroll during your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. Missing this could be risky.
Tip: Don’t miss your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period
In most states, this is your one opportunity to enroll in Medicare Supplement without going through medical underwriting and answering health questions.
If you miss this window, you may be denied coverage or asked to answer questions related to your health history when you apply in the future.