Select and Enroll in a Medicare Supplemental Plan
In order to get a Medicare supplemental policy you’ll need to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B: First enroll in Medicare, then, purchase a supplemental policy. The only way to enroll in Medicare is by either calling Social Security at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), or enrolling in Medicare online. You also may want to research the Medicare website.
To enroll in a comprehensive Rx Medicare Part D Plan you have a few options:
- Go to Medicare’s web site which helps you compare prescription medicine plans; or,
- Call us at Benefitscafe.com and we’ll help you enroll in a Part D (Rx) plan and a Medicare Supplemental plan.
On the Medicare drug plan finder, you can see which Part D plan includes the medicine that is important to you. You can enter your drugs and the name of your pharmacy. Next, the tool will tell you which plans are available and their cost. Then, you can compare the different plans and decide which one is right for you.
We can assist you with enrolling in a part D policy in addition to a supplemental policy that fills the gaps in Part A and Part B. You may want to do some research using the Medicare drug plan finder then work with us to enroll in a plan accompanied with your Supplemental Plan (A, B, F, high deductible F, etc.)
Enroll in a Medicare Supplemental Policy
Below is information for two situations to enroll in a:
- You’re newly eligible for Medicare and want to purchase a supplemental policy; and,
- You’re currently enrolled but would like to change supplemental plans.
1) First Time Enrolling in a Medicare Supplemental Plan (newly eligible)
If you’re about to turn age 65 you can enroll in Medicare 3 months before the month of your 65th birthday; during the month of your birthday and 3 months after, for a total of 7 months to enroll in Medicare. If you miss this “initial enrollment period” you’ll have to wait until the next “General Enrollment Period” which is January 1st – March 31st. If you enroll in the General Enrollment Period, your Medicare coverage would start July 1st of that year. Remember, you can’t sign up for a supplemental policy until you have Medicare Parts A and B. So, the earliest you can obtain a supplemental plan is when you turn 65 and your Medicare Parts A & B coverage begins.
Your “Medigap Open Enrollment Period” lasts 6 months and begins on the first day of the month in which you’re 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare part B.
Guaranteed Issuance (GI) of a Medicare supplemental policy may be very important to you. GI is when the insurance company must offer you coverage – they can not decline coverage; charge you more for coverage; or wait for coverage of a pre-existing medical condition. You have guaranteed issuance during your “initial enrollment period” or the first time you are eligible to enroll. GI is important and you don’t want to lose this. See this Medicare document and the section entitled “Why is it important for me to purchase a Medigap policy when I’m first eligible?”.
If you or your spouse continue to work and you are enrolled in the company’s group health insurance plan, you can delay your GI period for supplemental plans A,B,C,F,,K and L. This means that you can postpone enrolling in a Med Sup plan beyond the month of your 65th birthday and still purchase any policy without regard to your health on a guaranteed issued (GI) basis. (See the section “When do I have Guarantee Issue Rights” in Choosing a Medigap Policy.)
The easiest way to select and enroll in a Medigap / Medicare Supplemental policy is to click on this link on BenefitsCafe.com. You can compare insurance companies; compare supplemental plans (e.g., A, B, C, D, F, F high deductible, etc.); select a plan and either print an application online or ask us to mail you one. Currently, Medicare does not allow online applications. You can also call BenefitsCafe.com 800-764-0045 and we will help you.
2) Changing Med Sup Plans (you were previously enrolled in a Medigap Plan)
First, don’t cancel any coverage until you have other health insurance in place. By law, you have a 30 day “free look period” that starts when you get your new Medigap policy. But, you’ll need to pay both premiums for one month if you want to switch back. So, it’s best to do your homework before you switch. If you’ve had your current Medigap policy for more than 6 months you change plans, you won’t have any new waiting periods, or pre-existing condition limitations, or new probationary periods. (source, p. 35, 2011 edition of Choosing a Medigap Policy.)
It may be that you can get similar benefits for a lower price and changing plans makes sense. Or, you want to change your benefits and only a different Med Sup plan will fit your current needs. Most California insurance companies that offer Medicare Supplemental plans allow you to switch to a similar or lower benefit plan during the month of your birth. Some companies allow you to enroll in their plans at any time. Call BenefitsCafe.com at 800-746-0045 and we can let you know the current guidelines. The law allows you to change to another Medigap plan during the “Open Enrollment Period” October 15, 2014 to December 7, 2014. The changes made during the Open Enrollment Period go into effect January 1, 2015.