Questions have been circulating about whether the new healthcare laws set to take effect in January 2014 will affect Medicare supplemental insurance. People are concerned that the new legislation will allow Medigap insurers to refuse coverage to new applicants or raise annual or monthly premiums.
You can enroll in a Medicare supplement plan (or Medigap plan) regardless of your health conditions during the first 6 months after you enroll in Medicare Part B. When you turn 65 you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and B unless you choose to remain on a group plan or if you choose a Medicare Advantage plan. If you choose not to enroll in Part B when you turn 65, you are still allowed this 6 month grace period to enroll in a supplement plan without medical underwriting whenever you do enroll in Part B. If you wait until after the 6 month period to enroll in a Medicare supplement plan, you will be subject to a medical review called medical underwriting during your application. The insurance providers determine eligibility for coverage based on the series of questions they ask during medical underwriting.
An exception to the 6th month initial enrollment grace period that allows you to enroll in a Medigap plan without medical underwriting is if you come off of a Medicare Advantage plan because it is terminating service in your area, or if you move out of its area of coverage. You are guaranteed issue to any Medicare supplement plan without needing to undergo medical underwriting if your coverage is terminated without consent or because of geographic circumstances. You are also guaranteed issue if you are coming off of a group health plan.
After you enroll in a Medicare supplement plan, if your premiums increase you can always switch to another plan at any time. You can look for a cheaper plan with the same company or get the same plan with a different company for a lower premium. There is no registration period restrictions for switching plans, but every new application will require medical underwriting again. Applications can take up to 60 days to process but if you enlist the help of a Medicare supplement agency sometimes the process can take only 30 days. Medigap agencies help you compare prices between companies and plans. They inform you of your options and help you fill out applications and track the status of your application for you. The best part? Their services are free.
If you are interested in learning about your options for 2014 or would like to learn more about Medicare supplements and the application process, call one of our Medicare supplement specialists at (866) 894-3258.