Open Enrollment Dates & Deadlines for Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage Plans
Enrolling in a Medicare plan is only possible during specific periods in one’s life; Understanding the ins and outs is the first step to achieving the comprehensive (& guaranteed) coverage that you need.
Contrary to popular belief, signing up for a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage is a lot less complicated than most people think, especially when you have a knowledgeable advisor on your team.
But not everything is a “sure thing” when it comes to Medicare. For example, pre-existing medical conditions might cause your Medicare supplement application to be rejected, leaving you in the lurch when it comes to having the coverage you need.
The only way to guarantee that your Medicare supplement or Medicare Advantage application is accepted, pre-existing conditions and all, is to get signed up during the Initial Enrollment or Open Enrollment periods when you first turn 65. Because these periods vary for each person and differ based on what kind of plan you are looking to get, familiarizing yourself with the details is vitally important. (You also have the opportunity to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan every year, from October 15 and December 7.)
Medicare Supplement Plans: The Open Enrollment Period
Open Enrollment Period (OEP) is the one time in your life that you can enroll in any Medicare Supplement Plan (also known as “Medigap”) without answering any medical questions at all, meaning that even the most hawkish insurance companies cannot turn town your application, even if you have a pre-existing condition.
This is the only opportunity you may ever have to sign up for a Medicare supplement plan with guaranteed acceptance.
- Your Medicare Supplement OEP begins on Day One your Part B Coverage, and lasts for 6 months. So if your Plan B becomes effective on August 1st, your OEP will run until the last day of the 6th month, in this case, January 31st.
- For most people, Plan B coverage goes into effect on their 65th birthday, so it follows that the OEP would also commence on this date. However this is not always the case as some people choose to delay Part B enrollment while they are still employed.
- In some cases, it is possible to apply for a Medicare Supplement Plan before you turn 65. If you have applied for Medicare early and have already received a Medicare claim number, then you can apply for Medigap coverage right away. It will become effective on the same date as your Part B Coverage.
- Medicare Supplement plans are available year-round, however, if you apply during any other time than your personal OEP, then your application must undergo an approval process.
Medicare Advantage Plans: The Initial Enrollment Period
For Medicare Advantage plans, the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is a seven month window in which you can sign up for a plan, but only if you are already enrolled in Medicare parts A and B.
The IEP begins 3 months before your 65th birthday and continues for an additional 4 months after that, including your birthday month. However, the date that your new Medicare Advantage Plan becomes effective depends on when you sign up:
- If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during the first three months, then your new coverage will begin on the first day that you are eligible for Medicare. In most cases, this is your 65th birthday.
- If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan on the fourth month of IEP or after, then your coverage will begin on the month following the month of enrollment.
- Note: It is always possible to change your Medicare Advantage plan during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), with your new plan starting January 1.
If you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan when you first become eligible, you can change your mind within that first year, and still have an open enrollment period for signing up for a Medicare supplement plan.
Q: What about Special Enrollment Periods?
A: As you may have heard, there are some special considerations that might qualify an individual to apply for guaranteed Medicare outside of the Open or Initial Enrollment Periods.
Special Enrollment Periods are usually granted for individuals who move to a place that is outside their plan’s coverage area, or who have delayed their Part B coverage in favor of employer-based group coverage.
Q: Are Medicare Supplement Plans Available to Anyone Under 65
A: If you are disabled or are the recipient of disability benefits under Social Security, then you are eligible to enroll in Medicare before you turn 65.
The types of plans that are available to these Medicare enrollees varies by state, but in most cases you will not be turned down as long as you apply within six months of enrolling in Medicare.
You will then have another open enrollment period when you turn 65, in which you have a guaranteed-issue rights on Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage plans.
Q: I Have a Pre-Existing Condition; Will I Be Approved For A Medicare Supplement Plan?
A: The rapidly rising costs of healthcare means that more and more carriers are including a pre-existing condition clause in their new Medicare Supplement plans. Unless you apply for a supplement plan during your personal Open Enrollment Period, then your application will be subject to further review.
This process, called “underwriting” involves answering a detailed list of medical questions that may cause your application to be rejected.
If you are under 65 and have a pre-existing condition that might threaten your application, then it is very important that you take advantage of Open Enrollment the moment that it becomes available to you.
Here at MediGap Advisors, we believe that there is no reason for Medicare to be as complicated as the bureaucrats in Washington have designed it to be. If you want to learn more about how to quality for Medicare Supplement Plans, then feel free to contact us, or give us a call at 800-913-3416.
We’ll get you connected with your very own Personal Benefits Manager, so you too can understand how deceivingly simple and hassle-free the process can be.