“What are the Medicare Enrollment periods?”
Many people get confused and who can blame them with different enrollment periods for different plan types. Not to mention the alphabet soup of Medicare. These are the basic enrollment categories:
The most common cause for this confusion is that the three (a, b, & c above) are often lumped together in the mind of the consumers. These enrollment periods are assumed to be the same for each and they are not. Each must each be considered separately.
Further adding to the confusion is the three categories share common acronyms like IEP (Initial election period), and OEP (Open Enrollment Period). Although the acronyms are the same the definitions of what you can do are often different between Medicare Supplement and Medicare Part C and Part D. We will attempt to simplify Medicare supplement enrollment periods. If you want to review enrollment periods for the other types of plans please see those pages on this site.
Medicare Supplemental Insurance Open Enrollment Period (OEP)
Medicare Supplemental Insurance Open Enrollment Period (OEP) occurs only once in a lifetime for most people (unless you were on S.S. disability) and runs for six months from the Medicare Part B date on each individuals Medicare card. That is it!
During this period a Medicare Beneficiary can purchase any plan, from any company that offers a plan in their area (usually by zip code). This can be done without Medical questions and the acceptance by the insure is guaranteed. (not to be confused with Guarantee Issue period definition below).
There are a few instances where benefits can be restricted: In some states companies may ask tobacco use questions and may charge a higher premium but the applications still must be accepted by the insurer. Also, in some states if you do not have an existing Medical Insurance policy companies may impose a waiting period before benefits will begin for pre-existing condition. If you have a question or concern about any of these situations please talk to one of our advisors by filling out the request for consultation form or call us at 610-399-8700.
Medicare Supplement Annual enrollment period (AEP)
Probably the most commonly mistaken period is each year’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D. The AEP or Annual Enrollment period that runs each year from October 15th to Dec 7th does not apply to Medicare Supplement Insurance plans. However, since most people will likely have a stand-alone Part D plan with their Medicare supplement it makes sense to have someone review your prescription drug plan as well as the possibility of changing the Medicare Supplement insurance plan during this time. The Medicare Supplement plan change will require you to answer a few health questions – in most states – to determine qualification.
Medicare Supplement Guarantee Issue period (GI)
Medicare Supplement Enrollment has several Guaranteed Issue (GI) situations. For people who enrolled in Medicare Part B more than 6 months, can buy some Medicare supplement plans but not all without any Medical questions. Remember some lettered plans qualify under th GI provision for Medicare Supplement Enrollment but not all Medicare Supplement plans are available without medical questions.
Medicare supplement enrollment available under the GI definition are plans: A, B, C, F, K, and L.
Notice that two very popular plans “Medicare Supplement Plan G” and “Medciare Supplement Plan N” along with plans “D” and “Plan M” are not available under for GI enrollment under the current Guaranteed issue guidelines. You can enroll in these Medicare Supplement plans by submitting a fully underwritten application, answering the medical and other qualifying questions.
The situations covered under the guaranteed issue definition are:
You’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan, and your plan is leaving Medicare or stops giving care in your area, or you move out of the plan’s service area.
You have Original Medicare and an employer group health plan (including retiree or COBRA coverage) or union coverage that pays after Medicare pays and that plan is ending.
You have Original Medicare and a Medicare SELECT policy. You move out of the Medicare SELECT policy’s service area.
You joined a Medicare Advantage Plan or Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) when you were first eligible for Medicare Part A at 65, and within the first year of joining, you decide you want to switch to Original Medicare. (Trial Right)
You dropped a Medigap policy to join a Medicare Advantage Plan (or to switch to a Medicare SELECT policy) for the first time, you’ve been in the plan less than a year, and you want to switch back. (Trial Right)
Your Medigap insurance company goes bankrupt and you lose your coverage, or your Medigap policy coverage otherwise ends through no fault of your own.
You leave a Medicare Advantage Plan or drop a Medigap policy because the company hasn’t followed the rules, or it misled you.
In General you can enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan 60 days before your coverage ends and up to 63 days after. In some situations you may have up to 1 year to enroll using a guaranteed Issue definition but those situations are very few.