Lately, I have had people asking me about enrolling in a Medicare Supplement plan when they have a pre-existing condition. They want to know can they get coverage and if they can, if it will affect their rates.
First off, know that yes, you can enroll in a Medicare Supplement and no, it will not affect your rates.
There are two different enrollment periods involved. The first one is referred to as your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) and the second is referred to as your Open Enrollment Period (OEP).
Initial Enrollment Period
The Initial Enrollment period refers to the seven-month period when you first become eligible for Medicare, which for many people is when they turn 65. The Initial Enrollment period starts three months before you turn 65, (or first become eligible for Medicare) and includes the month you turn 65 and ends three months after you turn 65.
During this time, you can enroll in Medicare Part A, for which there is no cost for people who have worked 10 years or more. You can also enroll in Medicare Part B, which for many people in 2018 costs $134.00 a month. Individuals who have earned more than $85,000 a year, or $170,000 for couples filing a joint tax return, will pay more.
Note Medicare usually uses your tax return from two years prior to when you apply for Medicare. If you are applying for Medicare in 2018, they could use your 2016 tax return.
Medigap Open Enrollment Period
When people hear of Medicare Open Enrollment period, they think of the period from October 15 to December 7 when people on Medicare are allowed (among other things) to switch their Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug plans. However, Medicare also refers to the time when you are allowed to purchase any Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plan in your state regardless of any health issues as the Medigap Open Enrollment period.
The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period is a six-month period that starts the first day of the month you are 65 or older and are in enrolled in Medicare Part B. During your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period, any preexisting conditions are irrelevant and the insurance companies may not charge you a higher premium for any preexisting condition. Once you have purchased your Medicare Supplement policy the insurance company cannot single you out for a premium increase, and the only way they can cancel your policy is for non-payment of your premium or misrepresenting information on your enrollment application.
After your six-month Open Enrollment period expires you lose this privilege and if you want to change Medicare Supplement companies or plans you will have to pass through medical underwriting unless you qualify for one of several Special Enrollment Periods (SEP).
Enrolling in the right Medicare plan can be an overwhelming task. The options are many and the jargon can be confusing. Call or email me today to start plotting your course through the Medicare maze. I make the complex simple by shopping the plans and rates for you and I will explain your options in plain English. There is never a fee and you are under no obligation to use my services.
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Medigap and Medicare Supplement are different terms that mean the same thing; they both refer to plans that cover gaps in Original Medicare.
Links from Medicare.gov website:
Medicare Part A & Part B sign-up periods