When you first become eligible for Medicare, your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period begins. This six-month enrollment period is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most beneficiaries and is the ideal time to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan.

Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period

If you age into Medicare at 65, your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period begins on the first day of your 65th birth month. From there, you have until the last day of the sixth month following your birthday to choose a Medicare Supplement plan without health underwriting questions.

Conversely, suppose you become eligible for Medicare due to disability before age 65 or delay your Part B coverage after age 65. In that case, you become eligible for your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period on the first day of the month you enroll in Medicare Part B.

The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period allows beneficiaries to enroll in any Medicare Supplement plan without going through medical underwriting. This eliminates the ability for carriers to deny you coverage based on pre-existing health conditions.

Your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is not annual. This enrollment period only happens once for most beneficiaries, so it is especially beneficial to enroll in coverage during this time.

When is the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period?

Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period

The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is unique for everyone. For each Medicare beneficiary, the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period begins on the first day of the month your Medicare Part B becomes effective. It ends six months past your Medicare Part B effective date, on the last day of that month.

It is important to know that you do not always have to wait until your 65th birth month to utilize the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. Many Medicare Supplement carriers will allow beneficiaries to lock in their Medigap plan up to six months before their Medicare Part B start date. In this case, the insurance company still treats these additional six months as a part of your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period and will enroll you in the plan without underwriting health questions. 

Understanding the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period

The date you enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan has a significant effect on which plans you qualify for. Because the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is the only time you are eligible to enroll without answering health questions in most states, you can choose any plan with any carrier.

This means that you have the same options whether you are perfectly healthy or just left the hospital. It is crucial to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan during this time because you never know what may happen in one week, one month, or one year.

We all know that our health could be fine one day and decline significantly the next. If this is the case outside your initial enrollment period, you may not be eligible for a Medicare Supplement plan you thought you were eligible for the day prior.

Keep in mind that those eligible for Original Medicare after January 1, 2020, will not have the option to enroll in Medicare Supplement Plan F, Plan C, or High Deductible Plan F. This is true regardless of their health status.

What If I Miss My Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period?

Not enrolling in a Medicare Supplement plan during your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period can cause problems in the future. Even though you can apply for a Medicare Supplement plan anytime throughout the year, you will need to answer underwriting health questions, and the carrier can deny your application due to pre-existing conditions.

Depending on where you reside, you can change Medicare Supplement plans during state-specific enrollment periods without health questions, but to qualify, you must already be enrolled in a Medigap plan.

However, if you miss your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period and are denied coverage, you are not out of options. You will be eligible to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during a Medicare Advantage enrollment period.

How to Receive A Second Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period

It is rare to receive a second Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. However, it’s also not impossible. If you receive Medicare before age 65 because you collected Social Security Disability Income for long enough, you will receive a Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period when you first become eligible for Original Medicare and again when you turn 65.

In this case, you would receive two Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Periods with no underwriting health questions.

Learn More About the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period

If you still have questions regarding the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, don’t worry. Medicare can be confusing and the different enrollment periods can become intertwined in your head.

Medicare.gov offers resources to help educate beneficiaries on all things relating to their health coverage. Reviewing some of these resources will help you ensure that you are consistently enrolled in the best coverage.

Sources:

  1. Medigap (Medicare Supplement Health Insurance), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Accessed February 2022.
    https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Health-Plans/Medigap
  2. When Can I Buy Medigap?, Medicare.gov. Accessed February 2022.
    https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-other-insurance/when-can-i-buy-medigap
  3. Your Guide to Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment, Forbes. Accessed February 2022.
    https://www.forbes.com/health/healthy-aging/when-is-medicare-supplement-open-enrollment/

Jagger Esch

Medicare Expert

Jagger Esch is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ and the founder, president, and CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and MedicareFAQ.com. Since the inception of his first company in 2012, he has been dedicated to helping those eligible for Medicare by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their Medicare options. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare.