Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans, also referred to as Medigap plans, are an excellent way to help plug gaps in your coverage after your Medicare benefits pay out.
There are different types of Medigap plans, but all are provided by private companies, and you can sign up for them after you sign up for Medicare during your Open Enrollment Period.
What is an Open Enrollment Period?
Your Open Enrollment Period will be a six-month window of time specific to you, and it is important to understand that it will only begin when two conditions are satisfied: 1) when you are 65 years of age or older, and 2) when you are enrolled in Medicare Part B.
On the first day on which both of those conditions are satisfied, your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period will begin, and it will terminate exactly 6 months later.
During your Open Enrollment Period, you can sign up for any Medigap policy you like. However, you need to choose carefully: once you’ve made a decision, your options for making a different decision will be limited.
Supposing you choose a policy and later want to change it, you have the ability to do so under the conditions set by the Birthday Rule.
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What is the Birthday Rule?
Under Oregon’s Birthday Rule, every year on your birthday you will have 30 days in which to drop your current Medicare Supplement Insurance plan and acquire a new one with no medical underwriting.
Please note that this does not mean you can acquire any policy you like. The Birthday Rule has an important limitation: you may sign up for the same type of policy you already had, or you may sign up for one with lesser benefits.
This limitation is important because the plans are issued with no medical underwriting: in other words, the issuer of the policy cannot take a good, hard look at your health status and decline you.
So, if for whatever reason you do not like your carrier, you have the chance to pick up the same plan issued by a different carrier. You can also pick up a plan that offers fewer benefits.
What you can’t do, again, is acquire a plan with more generous benefits without medical underwriting, something to keep in mind when you sign up.
On the plus side, sometimes people are able to take advantage of the Birthday Rule to find the exact same policy issued by a different carrier with better pricing. If you aren’t absolutely certain you’ve found the best deal for your area and your type of plan, this could be worth investigating.
Your Open Enrollment Period will be an important time for you to make a decision that will affect your coverage. The plan you choose will determine how much extra coverage you will have after your Medicare benefits pay out.
Thanks to the Birthday Rule, you will also have some options for changing your carrier or your plan. Given the limitations of this rule, it is best to choose carefully the first time.