Open enrollment is a period when you can sign up for Medigap, or Medicare supplemental health insurance. Let’s get the facts straight for open enrollment and when to sign up in 2022.
Here are some topics we will cover:
- What is supplemental Medicare also known as Medigap?
- What’s the difference between supplemental Medicare and Medicare Advantage?
- When is supplemental Medicare open enrollment?
What is supplemental Medicare?
Medigap is a set of standardized supplemental health insurance plans for those enrolled in traditional Medicare. Unlike Medicare Advantage, Medigap is not a stand-alone policy but helps with costs not covered by Medicare Parts A and B. Things like deductibles, copays and coinsurance are the targets of Medigap.
Medigap vs. Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantage is generally a replacement of Medicare that looks and feels like normal commercial health insurance. Both Medigap and Medicare Advantage have additional monthly premiums on top of Medicare Part B.
Advantage plans are generally PPO/HMO plans that require you to visit a specific group of providers. Medigap plans are portable and widely accepted, making it the better plan for those who travel frequently or spend parts of the year in other regions.
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When is supplemental Medicare open enrollment?
It depends on your eligibility. If you have recently turned 65, your enrollment period begins when you enroll in Medicare Part B, per Medicare’s website. Medigap open enrollment is available when you begin paying for Part B premiums.
How long is Medicare open enrollment?
You have six months to enroll in Medicare Part B after you become eligible, otherwise you will face a late enrollment penalty.
This six-month window is the best time to purchase a Medigap plan as you are protected from medical underwriting and can pick any plan you’d like. This is the only time this occurs unless you had Medicare before you were 65.
Why should I enroll in supplemental Medicare early?
During the initial enrollment, you will have an option to buy a Medigap policy. You can generally apply for Medigap plans any time during the year, but will have to appeal to individual insurance companies in order to do so. They may turn you away if they find you to be unhealthy in the underwriting process.
The only exception to this rule is if you have continued to work, kept your employer’s health insurance, and also enrolled in Medicare at age 65. For these folks, something called Guaranteed Issue allows them to pick from some of the Medigap plans without a thorough medical review. This period lasts about two months and doesn’t include the most popular plan, Medigap Plan G.
Don’t confuse Medigap with Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantage has an annual election period in which you can change plans in the Fall. These two are often confused, so don’t make this mistake and push off your enrollment until then.
Make sure to take advantage of the six-month period after you become eligible for Medicare Parts A and B for enrolling in Medigap.
If you have questions, feel free to contact me.