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Medicare Supplement Insurance is private insurance purchased to supplement Original Medicare’s benefits. Original Medicare – made up of Medicare Parts A and B, helps to cover doctor and hospital charges, but it doesn’t cover them at 100%. Medicare Supplement Insurance fills in the “gaps” (that’s why it’s also referred to as Medigap insurance) and it pays the coinsurance and deductibles that Original Medicare doesn’t pay.
Typically Medigap plans are medically underwritten. This means that the insurance can ask you a series of health questions to see if you qualify. If you are sick or have chronic health issues, you could be denied coverage.
In certain states there is no medical underwriting and Medicare Supplement plans are guaranteed issue all year long ( NY, ME, WA and CT ), but in most areas, you will need to pass through medical underwriting to obtain a Medicare Supplement Plan unless you are in your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period, OR you fall into certain “guarantee issue” situations.
One of the most common misconceptions I hear is that folks think they can always change their Medicare Supplement Plan, or get a new Medicare Supplement plan once per year during the “medicare open enrollment”. This is usually not the case. The annual Medicare Election Period (often referred to as the Medicare "open enrollment" period), only applied to your Part D Rx plan, OR your Medicare Advantage Plan.
When it comes to Medicare Supplement insurance, most people get ONE open enrollment Period – that is, one time window when they can pick any Medigap plan they want, with any insurance company, and they’re guaranteed to be issued the policy at the preferred rate. This Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period happens when you first turn 65 and/OR you first enroll in Medicare Part B, and lasts up to 6 months after your Part B effective date.
This is generally the one time that you can pick any Medicare Supplement plan you want with no medical underwriting.
If you are on Medicare Part B BEFORE age 65 due to disability, you get a NEW Medigap open enrollment period when you turn 65!
Anytime outside of this window, you are typically going to have to answer a series of health questions and be ‘healthy’ enough to qualify to switch you plan. If you are in poor health, the insurance company could simply deny your coverage for that Medigap plan.
This is why it’s so import to be aware of and take advantage of this limited Medicare Supplement open enrollment window – because once it closes, you will have to go through medical underwriting to change your Medicare Supplement plan in the future. As you approach turning 65, or you approach adding Medicare Part B for the first time, you want to do your homework – make sure you are pick the right Medigap plan for your needs, with the right insurance company. Insurance companies all offer standardized Medicare Supplement Plans, meaning the plans are always exactly the same no matter which company you go with, but the rates can vary quite a but from one company to another. Additionally, certain insurance companies have much higher average annual rate increases than others. I can help you shop around and make sure that you are maximizing your savings as you pick a plan during your open enrollment window. Of course, I would be happy to help provide a free no obligation quote for Medicare Supplement Plans in your area. Please give me a call at 888-465-9728, or email [email protected]. My service is 100% free of charge.
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