Training 7: Times When You Can Buy Medigap Insurance
Medigap enrollment periods overview
You have more flexibility related to times you can buy a Medigap policy than you do for times that you can enroll in a Medicare advantage plan.
But there are still enrollment periods and times that are better than others to buy a supplement.
Medigap Open Enrollment Period
Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period is the best time to buy a supplement.
During this time an insurance company cannot:
- Refuse to sell you any Medigap policy that it sells
- Make you wait for effective coverage (Some exceptions apply)
- Charge you a higher premium due to a health condition
Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period lasts for 6 months and begins on the first day of the month that you are both 65 and enrolled in Part B.
This could be when you are aging into Medicare or after you have aged in if you did not elect Part B initially due to being covered by your employer or union group insurance coverage.
You can submit your application once you have received your Medicare card or receive notice of your Part B effective date if you waited to elect that coverage.
Submitting your application a month or two early will make it likely that your supplement will be in place when your Medicare or Part B becomes effective.
Guaranteed Issue rights
There are times when you have a change in your circumstances that trigger your right to buy a Medicare supplement guaranteed without regard to preexisting conditions.
Some common times when you have these rights include:
- Your Medicare Advantage plan is leaving Medicare
- You are enrolled in Medicare and your employer group insurance is ending, including COBRA
- You have a Medicare Select Policy and move out of the service area
- You joined Medicare Advantage when first eligible and are in your first year
- You dropped a Medigap policy to enroll in an Advantage plan or Medicare select policy and it’s been less than a year
- Your Medigap insurance company goes bankrupt
You may be limited as to which plans you are able to purchase.
Other times when you can buy a Medicare supplement
You can submit an application anytime you are enrolled in Medicare. But, keep in mind that you cannot be enrolled in an Advantage plan and have a supplement at the same time.
Also, buying a Medicare supplement will not cancel a Medicare advantage plan if you have been in Medicare Advantage more than a year.
If you have been enrolled in an Advantage plan more than a year you will have to wait until your Medicare Advantage Annual Election Period to submit an application for Medigap.
Once your policy is issued you can dis-enroll from your Advantage plan (January 1st – February 14th) or notify your Advantage plan while still in the election period (October 15st – December 7th).
In any case make sure your policy is issued prior to leaving your Advantage plan unless you would rather return to original Medicare.
If you are not in your open enrollment period or don’t have guaranteed issue rights you may not have a policy issued due to health conditions.
If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, submit your application for a supplement early so you will know whether or not a policy will be issue so you can keep your options open.