Enrollment periods vary based on whether your plan is a Supplement or Advantage/Drug plan. If you are new to Medicare, you might have to enroll in Original Medicare (see Starting Original Medicare)
Supplements are made up of ten standardized plans that are named by letter (A, B, C, D, F, G, J, K, L, N.) You can shop and replace a supplement any time of year. However, you will have to go through underwriting when you apply (meaning that medical questions are asked to determine eligibility.)
Open enrollment for Supplement/Medigap plans happens only one time and lasts six months. During this time, you can enroll in any Supplement plan and get approved at the preferred rate with no questions asked.
Open enrollment for a supplement is triggered when you turn 65 and/or start your Medicare Part B.
There are certain situations, outside of open enrollment, when you can sign up for a supplement without answering medical questions. To learn more about Guarantee Issue rights, look on page 22 of the CMS publication titled, “Medicare Medigap Shoppers Guide.”
You can apply for a supplement any time of the year, however, you will need to answer some medical questions on the application. You will be subject to the decision of the insurance company whether you are approved, charged a higher premium or denied coverage.
Plan F and C are no longer available to anyone starting Medicare on or after January 2020. If you have had your Medicare before 2020, you can still have or get either Plan F or C.
Advantage and Drug Plans
Annual Open Enrollment
October 15- December 7
Each year we discuss your plan, how it is working for you and make note of how benefits are changing for the next year. In September, we write a letter to all our clients reminding them about the fall Open Enrollment and offering our help to make any adjustments that might be needed.
If you are happy with your plan, it will usually continue for next year with nothing you need to do. If you want to switch, we will get the paperwork done and your new plan starts January 1st.
January 1 – March 31
If you have an Advantage Plan (Part C), you can switch to another Advantage plan in your area or go back to Original Medicare (in which case you are probably purchasing a Supplement with standalone drug plan.)
Special Election Periods
There are times outside of the regular enrollment periods that you can change plans. Usually an event will trigger this such as moving, qualifying for state or federal assistance or losing other coverage.