by Kristin P. Sinclair – Charleston SC – April 5, 2018
The very best time to buy your Medicare supplement is during your Open Enrollment Period(OEP). Normally this period lasts for six months starting with the first day of the month you are 65 or older and are also enrolled in Medicare Part B. For those under age 65* there may be additional Open Enrollment Periods in certain states.
During your Open Enrollment Period an insurance company cannot refuse to sell you any Medicare Supplement Policy they offer; charge you a higher rate than that company might charge someone in good to excellent health; or make you wait for your coverage to begin. Please note that the insurance company may make you wait for up to six months for pre-existing condition coverage. That is a condition that you would have prior to your Medicare Supplement coverage starting. This period of time is called a pre-existing condition waiting period. After six months, your Medicare Supplement Policy will cover any pre-existing conditions.
If you make a change from one Medicare Supplement to another after becoming Medicare eligible, and you have not had a lapse in coverage with your prior provider; then you will have underwriting. you can shorten, the period where a waiting period would be applicable. It is possible to shorten or eliminate any pre-existing condition waiting periods if you have Creditable Coverage before you apply.
An insurance company cannot subject you to any pre-existing condition waiting period if you have been covered by your employer health plan which is Creditable Coverage; if you are still working full time and opted to delay Part B until you have decided to move your coverage to include your Medicare Part B coverage, or if you have had at least six months of Creditable Coverage. Please note that you cannot have had a 63 day break in coverage between your Creditable Coverage and your Medicare Supplement coverage.
You need to include your letter of creditable coverage with your application unless you are new to Medicare Part B.
It is also important to keep in mind that your Medicare Supplement rights are based upon when you enroll in Medicare Part B. For those age 65 and older, your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period begins when you enroll in Medicare Part B. This period cannot be change or repeated. Thus, if you have employer or union group health coverage that is as good or better than original medicare, then you may want to wait until later to enroll in Medicare Part B. Most group health coverage provides benefits similar to Medicare Part B; and also having Medicare Part B might be an unnecessary duplicate expense. Worse yet, your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period might expire before you need it.
In summary, for those age 65 and over, when you are first eligible you have the right to buy any Medicare Supplement Policy offered in your state. This gives you more choices, and normally lower monthly premiums. So during the Open Enrollment Period, a person with health issues can buy a Medicare Supplement for the same lower prices as those with no health issues.
Kristin P. Sinclair (803)329-0615
Charlotte NC, Rock Hill SC and Charleston SC
April 5, 2018
* For those under age 65 that have Medicare Coverage due to a disability, and suffer End-Stage Renal disease there may be limitations to their coverage options.
KPS: More information available at Medicare.gov