Can you enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan after the Open Enrollment Period?

Pamela Cannaday by Pamela Cannaday | Licensed since 2011
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This article was updated on: 09/16/2018

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When can I enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan?

Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans, sold by private insurance companies, may help pay some of the out-of-pocket costs that Medicare Part A and Part B do not pay, such as deductibles, coinsurance and copayments. In most cases you have a 6-month Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, which starts the first month you’re age 65 or older and enrolled in Part B.

During the Open Enrollment Period you have a guaranteed right to purchase any Medicare Supplement plan sold in the state where you reside regardless of your health status. You cannot be turned down, or charged a higher premium, due to a health problem. However, you might face a waiting period before coverage relating to your health condition starts.

What happens if I don’t enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan during the Open Enrollment Period?

If you decide to apply for a Medicare Supplement plan after your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period expires, it’s possible that you’ll find it difficult to get a Medicare Supplement plan or it may cost you more.  Outside the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, an insurance company may use medical underwriting guidelines when reviewing your application to determine whether or not to accept your application and provide Medicare Supplement insurance coverage.   Medical underwriting commonly involves collecting information about your health status and medical history by surveying or interviewing you or requesting your medical records.  If the insurance company accepts your application, it may charge you a higher premium than it charges other plan members if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

Special circumstances in which you may have guaranteed-issue rights

Under special circumstances you might have guaranteed-issue rights (that is, insurance companies cannot refuse you Medicare Supplement coverage or charge you more for a pre-existing condition) even outside the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. These situations may include:

  • The insurance company that provides your Medicare Supplement plan discontinues the plan (for example, it files for bankruptcy) and you lose your coverage
  • You are enrolled in a Medicare SELECT plan (a type of Medicare Supplement plan that might require you to use providers in its network) and you moved out of the plan’s service area
  • You have employer or union sponsored group health plan coverage that is ending and you are enrolling in Medicare Part B
  • You enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, and when you moved outside the plan’s service area, you switched back to Medicare Part A and Part B
  • You enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan when you were first eligible for Medicare, and used your “trial right” to return to Medicare Part A and Part B within 12 months of your Medicare Advantage plan enrollment date
  • You switched from a standard Medicare Supplement plan to a Medicare SELECT plan and used your “trial right” to return to a standard Medicare Supplement plan within 12 months of your Medicare SELECT enrollment date.

Keep in mind that if you cancel your Medicare Supplement plan, you might not be able to get the same Medicare Supplement plan if you later decide you want a Medicare Supplement plan as a complement to your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage.

To learn more about Medicare Supplement plans and other Medicare coverage options available where you live, feel free to contact me.  You may use one of the links below to set up a phone call with me or request personalized information from me by email.  You can also do some research on your own to get familiar with Medicare plan options in your area by clicking on the “Compare Plans” button on this page.

The purpose of this communication is the solicitation of insurance. Contact will be made by an insurance agent/producer or insurance company.

Medicare Supplement insurance plans are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program.

The product and service descriptions, if any, provided on these [eHealth/PlanPrescriber] Web pages are not intended to constitute offers to sell or solicitations in connection with any product or service. All products are not available in all areas and are subject to applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

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Pamela Cannaday |
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