When Is the Medicare Supplement Annual Enrollment Period? (Trick Question)

Many people mistakenly believe that the Medicare Supplement plans have an annual open enrollment period that occurs at the end of the year. However, this is not the case. The end of year open enrollment period actually only applies to the Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans (the plans that replace Medicare).

Medicare Supplement plans actually do NOT have any sort of annual enrollment period. On the contrary, you can enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan at any time of the year. They do employ medical underwriting on the application (regardless of the time of year!), and applications are either approved or declined based on your answers to the health questions in most situations. However, you can change at any time of the year, as long as you are in relatively good health.

Another common misconception about Medicare supplement plans is that they are the same as Medicare Advantage plans. However, this could not be further from the truth. Obviously, as we’ve discussed above, the two types of plans have different enrollment rules (as far as time of year you can enroll). Additionally, when you enroll in, or change, your Medicare Supplement plan, you do have to qualify medically (answer medical questions on the application), regardless of the time of year. With Medicare Advantage, however, you can only change a certain time of the year (annual enrollment period) and there are no medical questions. This is especially important to someone turning 65 to consider, particularly if you have some pre-existing conditions. If you take an Advantage plan when you first go on Medicare at age 65, you may not be eligible for an actual Medicare Supplement later.

The misconception about the Medicare Supplement plans having an annual enrollment period is fueled by several factors. First of all, I believe that the heavy advertising (television, direct mail, etc) that AARP, Humana and others do this time of year can be misleading. Also, some of those companies (incorrectly) imply that their plans are Medicare Supplements, when they are actually Medicare Advantage plans. Also, this is the time of the year that you change your Part D prescription plan, so many people end up doing both at once (Part D and Medicare Supplement).

Regardless of the misconception, it is important to understand how Medicare Supplements work, as well as understanding the differences between actual supplements and the Medicare replacement plans like Medicare Advantage. To get quotes on Medicare Supplement plans, as well as more information about what they cover, you can contact us at 877.506.3378 or on our website at Medigap insurance quotes.

Medicare Supplement Annual Enrollment Period – Is There One?

One of the common myths with Medicare Supplement insurance is that there is an annual open enrollment period. Many seniors, either through faulty information or incorrect assumptions, believe that there is an annual period, during which you can sign up for Medicare Supplements or change your current Medicare Supplement insurance. On the contrary, you can change Medicare supplement plans at any time – there is no set enrollment period.

One of the main reasons for this incorrect belief is that there IS an annual enrollment period for Medicare Part D (prescription coverage) and Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage), which people often mistakenly refer to as a Medicare supplement. The enrollment period for these types of plans is November 15-December 31 of each year (this time period is changing for 2011, but these are the dates for the 2010 annual election period).

That said, the end of the year is an excellent time to review your Medicare Supplement coverage and make any necessary changes. Medicare Supplement coverage does not change on an annual basis like Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D. The plans are the same over time; however, your rates do change. Some companies change rates based on your age (this usually occurs around your birthday), other companies change rates annually (this occurs 1/1 of each year), and other companies change rates on your policy anniversary date. Either way, when your rate changes, it is highly likely that you are able to switch to an equal plan from a different company and save money on your coverage.

It is advisable to re-evaluate your Medicare Supplement / Medigap coverage on at least a bi-annual basis, as insurance is a rapidly changing field that requires one to be aware of current rates and trends. In the last year in many areas of the country, Medicare Supplement rates have actually gone down due to new companies entering the marketplace and new plans being released (Medigap Plan N). This means that now is a better time than ever to re-evaluate your coverage and make a change if you find that you can save money for equal coverage.

To receive a full comparison of Medigap quotes for your age and zip code, you can contact us at Medicare supplement quote or toll-free at 877.506.3378.