Does Open Enrollment with Medicare Mean the Same Thing from one Broker to the Next?

Presented by Leonard Berthelsen

The answer is, probably not!  We field calls frequently from brokers and agents that don’t work the Medicare market often and we are asked, “When does open enrollment start for Medicare Supplement coverage? 

There has been a fair amount of attention and publicity surrounding Medicare Advantage plans and the open enrollment period each year.  Unfortunately it is called Medicare open enrollment; this of course applies to the Medicare Advantage plans and not Medicare Supplement coverage. 

Medicare Advantage open enrollment starts October 15 and ends December 7, Pearl Harbor Day. The changes or enrollment a person makes during open enrollment takes effect January 1st of the following year.  A person turning 65 during the year can also elect a Medicare Advantage plan outside of the specified open enrollment period as they age into Medicare.

There is no specified date range or time for an “open enrollment” with Medicare Supplement coverage.  Now before readers send comments in stating that yes there is an open enrollment with supplements, let me be a little more specific.  A person turning age 65 and aging into Medicare technically has an “open enrollment” or “guaranteed issue” time frame in which to select a Medicare Supplement carrier without evidence of insurability.  That of course, centers around their birthdate.  This happens all year long with all folks aging into Medicare and wanting to secure a Medicare Supplement.

A person losing coverage at work that is 65 or older, retiring or having an employer drop their medical insurance, as well as a carrier failing, all have a right to supplemental coverage from a private insurer without proving insurability under Medicare provisions.  This of course is with them providing a creditable coverage certificate to both the insurer and Medicare.

Many Medicare Supplement carriers send out advertising and make announcements that they are not affected by open enrollment right about the time open enrollment with Medicare Advantage is about to begin.  There is quite a bit of confusion surrounding this, and we just wanted to bring a little clarity to the matter.

Remember, a person can purchase a Medicare Supplement policy any time during the year provided they meet the eligibility requirements either by age, life event or they can medically qualify.  Medicare Advantage plans have a specific time each year that a person can move into, out of, or change a Medicare Advantage plan.  Aging into a Medicare Advantage plan can happen at any time during the year at the time they reach age 65.

Hopefully, now you know the difference and it helps you and your clients understand what those differences are.

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