Regarding Medicare supplement plans or Medigap plans, one of the most commonly asked questions has to do with the best time to purchase such a plan. The best time to sign up for Medigap plan is during the Medigap open enrollment period. The open enrollment period is a 6 month period that begins on the first day of the month that you enroll to Medicare Part B.
Once you choose to enroll in Medicare Part B, please note that this enrollment period begins with the condition that you are at least 65 years old. In addition, once you enroll in Part B, the enrollment period kicks off and this cannot be undone.
A few important points need to be noted about the Medigap open enrollment period. Insurance companies cannot use medical underwriting during this period. This means that insurance companies are not allowed to charge you more for Medigap policies than they should due to any past health conditions that you may have. Also, during the enrollment period, insurance companies cannot compel you to wait for your coverage to commence; they also cannot refuse to offer you any Medigap policies that they have for sale.
People need to understand the usefulness of the Medigap open enrollment period and also the consequences of failing to take action before the period elapse.
As stated earlier, insurance companies are restricted from using medical underwriting during the enrollment period. If after the enrollment period has expired you choose to apply for a Medicare supplement plan, the insurance company in question may likely use medical underwriting to determine the price of the policy plan. The company may also use medical underwriting to approve coverage for many cases.
It is worthy of note that the choices provided will be very limited even if your coverage is approved. However, there are some situations where you may still be permitted to purchase a Medicare supplement plan after the open enrollment period has elapsed. For such situations, the policy has guaranteed issue rights also referred to as “Medigap protections”.
Guaranteed issue rights are enforced in circumstances where your health coverage plan is varying in some way. As an example, if you have union coverage that makes payment after Medicare has payed and this coverage is ending, you have guaranteed issue rights. A similar situation applies when an individual has signed up for a Medicare SELECT policy and they happen to be moving out of the service area of the plan. For these kinds of situations, insurance companies are under compulsion to sell to you a Medigap policy that will cover all your pre-existing conditions. Please note that the plans offered during such situations may be limited.
For you to enjoy continuous coverage, it is advisable that you apply for a Medigap policy early enough or at least during the time when the Medigap open enrolment is in force. It is not advisable that you wait until your health coverage expires to apply for the appropriate Medigap plan.