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Medicare Supplement insurance, often referred to as Medigap insurance, provides coverage for many of the health care services that Medicare Parts A and B doesn’t cover. These may include the cost of deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments.
The law guarantees the availability of Medicare Supplement insurance coverage to all new Medicare enrollees without the need to undergo a medical exam, provided that the individual enrolls in his or her Medigap insurance coverage within a certain period of time.
Enrolling in Medicare Supplement Insurance Coverage
When enrolling in Medicare Supplement insurance coverage, the best time to purchase a policy is during your “open enrollment” period. This is the six month time frame that starts on the first day of the month in which you are age 65 or older and are also enrolled in Medicare Part B coverage.
During this time, you cannot be turned down by the Medicare Supplement insurance company due to any preexisting health conditions that you may have. In addition, you also cannot be charged a higher amount of premium due to your health.
Enrolling in Medicare Supplement After Your Open Enrollment Period Has Expired
If you wait to purchase your Medicare Supplement insurance until after your open enrollment period has expired, it is possible that you could be required to pay a higher amount of premium due to your health. You may also be denied coverage if you have a serious health condition.
If this is the case, you may find it much more difficult to find Medicare Supplement insurance if you wait until after your open enrollment period to apply for coverage. You will also have a much more limited choice as to which Medicare Supplement policies – if any – that you may qualify for.
Exceptions to Applying During the Open Enrollment Period
There are certain circumstances when you may have the right to obtain a Medicare Supplement insurance plan after your open enrollment time period has ended. In these cases, the insurer cannot deny you coverage or raise the premium amount. Some examples of such exceptions could include the following:
- You have lost your health insurance coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan, a Medicare Supplement plan, or through your employer’s health care coverage plan, but not by your own doing
- You have joined a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time and within one year of joining that plan, you decide that you want to leave Medicare Advantage
- You have a letter of an insurance plan termination or an involuntary termination, and you subsequently have a 63-day open window during which you can apply for a Medicare Supplement insurance plan
In any case, prior to applying for a Medicare Supplement plan, it is important that you first determine whether the plan will exclude or limit coverage for any needs that you have. In addition, you will also want to ensure that the Medigap plan that you ultimately choose is going to be the right one for your health care needs, as well as for your overall premium budget.