Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is a one-time 6-month window that allows you to enroll in any Medigap plan of your choice without having to worry about being denied coverage due to pre-existing health conditions. Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period window begins the first of the month your Part B goes into effect.

Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period

Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period starts the first of the month when you enroll in Part B. This is a once-in-a-lifetime 6-month window. During this 6-month window, you can enroll in any Medigap plan from any company and not be denied for health issues.

This means if you have cancer, heart issues, or anything else of the like—you’ll be guaranteed coverage and cannot be denied. A lot of people do not know how this 6-month window works and unfortunately miss out on a very important timeframe.

For most people, if you pass up this 6-month window, you would then be required to answer health questions (go through underwriting) and can possibly be denied insurance if you have certain pre-existing conditions. Many individuals also incorrectly believe that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) makes it illegal to ask health questions.

This is only true for individual health insurance plans (mostly for people under age 65 and not on Medicare). Medicare nor Medigap follow the same regulations that individual health plans have to follow.

Guaranteed Issue Rights

There are many special enrollment period circumstances that will allow an individual to purchase a Medigap plan without answering health questions. If you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, you will be eligible for Guaranteed Issue which means you are guaranteed acceptance and cannot be denied health coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Common instances where an individual would be eligible for a Guaranteed Issue period would include losing a group health/employer plan, moving outside of a plans service area, an existing company dropping coverage through no fault of your own, and more. Speak with a licensed agent to determine if you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.

Annual Enrollment Period

Many individuals believe the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is the only time of year when you can purchase or change your Medicare Supplement plan. This is actually untrue. The AEP was designed for Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D drug plans and has nothing to do with Medigap. You can cancel or change your Medigap policy at any time throughout the year without regard to time restrictions.

Underwritten

Any individual has the opportunity at any time to apply for a Medigap plan and go through the underwriting process. This simply means that you will be required to answer questions relating to your health, and the insurance company will review your questions, as well as your medical history, to determine your health plan eligibility.

It’s possible that you can be denied if you have any major health problems. This can also vary from company to company. Just because you are denied with Company A doesn’t mean that Company B will automatically decline you as well. This is another reason why it’s important to speak with a knowledgeable insurance agent regarding your options.

Pre-existing Health Conditions

Individuals with major or chronic health conditions often worry that they will not be eligible to purchase a Medicare Supplement plan. This may be true in some cases. However, there are many ways an individual can qualify for coverage. Even with a severe pre-existing health condition.

When you enroll during your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, or if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, individuals who have diabetes, heart issues, cancer, COPD, and more can obtain coverage without being asked about health conditions.

As always, it’s good to speak with a licensed agent who can navigate your healthcare options and help you qualify for a plan that meets your needs. Give us a call, or complete or complete our online form to see the options available in your area now.

by Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare expert for Medigap.com. She's been contributing to many well-known publications as an industry expert since 2017. Her passion is educating Medicare beneficiaries on all their supplemental Medicare options so they can make an informed decision on their healthcare coverage.
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