Timing Your Enrollment is Essential to Getting the Best Cost & Coverage Options
Reality check: Turning 65 and signing up for Medicare is only the first step. If you stop there, you’ll not only be paying too much for Medicare, but you’ll also be making it harder to score a good plan down the line.
Signing up for Medicare Supplement Plans or Medicare Advantage is all about the timing. But it also requires knowing the difference between the two, so you can make the most informed choice.
Start Here: Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage
What’s the difference between Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage?
Original Medicare consists of Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). But those plans together are still not enough to cover the real costs of healthcare for Medicare enrollees.
Both Medigap and Medicare Advantage were designed to make Medicare both easier and more affordable. But they do have some key differences:
Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap) is specialized coverage that you can add to your Medicare Parts A and B. Medigap plans are most commonly used to pay for things that Original Medicare does not, such as dental, vision, and hearing.
Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C, is an alternative to Parts A and B. In other words, a Medicare Advantage plan would cover everything that Original Medicare does. It also adds in Part D prescription coverage. Depending on the plan you choose, you can also get vision, dental, and hearing care.
How do I choose between Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage?
Choosing between Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage requires some careful consideration. You have to take a lot of things into account, including your age, income, and even your long-term retirement plans.
Your Personal Benefits Manager can help you make this decision; You can sign-up for a no-cost consultation at any time.
When to sign up for Medigap / Medicare Supplement Plan
The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is the best time to sign up for Medigap. While it will still be possible to enroll in another plan down the line, the premiums are going to be a lot higher. It’s also possible that in that time, you’ll develop a health condition that might limit your plan options.
When is Medigap Open Enrollment?
The Medicare Supplement Open Enrolment period begins on the first day of the month you turn 65, and lasts for six months. Example: If your 65th birthday is on January 15th, you can enroll in Medigap starting on January 1st of that year. Your enrollment period will last until June 30th of the same year.
When to Sign Up for Medicare Advantage
There are three different enrollment periods for Medicare Advantage:
- The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), which begins three months before your 65th birthday and lasts for 7 months.
- Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), which lasts from October 15th to December 7th of every year.
- A Special Enrollment Period, which you qualify for if you move, lose your employer-sponsored healthcare, find new employer coverage, or if Medicare terminates your plan. There are also Special Needs Plans (SNP) available to individuals with severe or debilitating conditions. Eligible individuals can enroll in an SNP at any time.
When can I switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan?
If you want to switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan, or switch back to Original Medicare, you can only do so during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).
Call us for help with your Medigap or Medicare Advantage
The MediGap Advisors Team is a group of experts with a lot of experience navigating this stuff. Your Personal Benefits Manager and I can walk you through the entire process. It begins with choosing between Medigap and Medicare Advantage, but it doesn’t end until you feel truly secure with your Medicare.
Call 800-913-3416 to set up your free, no-obligation strategy session. Or check out the MediGap Advisors Blog for more advice and info on how to master your Medicare.
Tom Lockwood is a Personal Benefits Manager at MediGap Advisors. Tom has a passion for bringing clarity to those confused about Medicare. He is an authority on Medicare, Medicare supplement plans, Medicare Advantage plans, and Part D prescription drug plans. Read more about Tom on his Bio page.