When do I Enroll in a Medicare Supplemental Insurance?

Medicare Supplemental Insurance has strict guidelines you must follow in order to enroll in their insurance plans. Supplemental plans are owned and managed by private companies rather than by the federal government. These companies must follow certain rules and regulations to participate in the Medicare program. However, in order to make the plans more advantageous for the insurance companies limits have been put in place that enables them to deny you coverage. Enrollment periods are one of these limits.

Auntie Lou says, "Mark your calendar, these guys aren't kidding."

Understanding the Initial Open Enrollment Period

When you first start using Medicare at age 65 or older, you have what is known as your Open Enrollment Period. Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period is one of the most important among the Medicare Enrollment Periods. During this time you can choose whatever supplemental policy is available and the company must sell it to you. Later you may able to buy a supplemental policy but the company can decide whether they want to sell it to you or not. They can also decide to delay coverage and charge you more. If you sign up when you are suppose to you will only encounter a delay in coverage if you have a pre-existing condition and have not had at least 6-months of prior creditable insurance coverage before you entered the Medicare program.

Your Open Enrollment Period for Supplemental Insurance begins six months after you enroll in Plan B and are 65 years old or older.

For example, if you sign up for Part B two months prior to your 65th birthday the six month period will start on the first day of your birthday month (or one month earlier than your birthday month if your birthday is on the 1st of the month). After your birthday you will then have six months to purchase Supplemental Insurance.

The supplemental policy you choose generally can't be changed or replaced. Some states have adopted more lenient regulations regarding enrollment periods. Your Supplemental policy will automatically renew as long as you pay your premium. You also will be able to enroll in a Supplemental policy under some rules related to Special Enrollment. Moving out of a plan's area, loss of private supplemental coverage and leaving work are a few of the conditions that will let you enroll in a Supplemental policy at different times. It is also possible to suspend your plan for up to two years.