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.