Most Medicare beneficiaries are familiar with the annual Medicare open enrollment period. Also known at the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP), it occurs October 15 through December 07, and is the time when individuals evaluate their current Medicare Part C Plan (Medicare Advantage) and Medicare Part D Plan (Prescription Drug) coverages. Beneficiaries can stay enrolled in their current plan, if still available, change to another insurance carrier, or select another plan. Medicare annual open enrollment does not apply to Medicare Supplement Plans in the State of Kansas, also known as “gap” policies.
Medicare Supplement Plans are available to new Medicare beneficiaries during an initial six-month open enrollment period. This six-month open enrollment period begins the first day of the month when the beneficiary has enrolled into Medicare Part B. Most individuals become eligible when they turn age 65, but those who continue to work may become eligible when they retire and lose coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan. Disabled Medicare beneficiaries under age 65 have the same open enrollment period upon qualification and a second open enrollment period when they turn age 65.
Once a beneficiary has Medicare Part B coverage, insurance carriers must offer supplement plans to anyone who applies, regardless of current or past health history. After the six-month open enrollment period, insurance carriers generally apply medical underwriting to individuals applying for coverage.
For most individuals, consulting with an insurance agent who specializes in Medicare and Medicare Supplement Plans is the best strategy. The agent can discuss the different insurance carriers and plans available, including customer service experience and history of rate adjustments. It is important to note all insurance carriers must offer the same Medicare Supplemental Plans, but the plan premiums may vary. An experienced agent can help you find the best plan for you.
Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health, Topeka, and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars. We are your local expert in Medicare planning and can help you find the best option for your personal situation. Call us at 785-270-4593 with questions or to sign up for a free seminar. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm.