An Often Missed Medicare Open Enrollment Opportunity

By Marv Law, CLTC

Most recipients are aware of the Open Enrollment when they are new to Medicare, and of the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) every year from October 15 through December 7. If you are on a Medicare Advantage or Drug Plan, you will receive a Notice of Change booklet from your Plan that outlines any changes made to your plan for the following year. This is a great opportunity to determine if your plan is still suitable for your needs, especially how your drugs will be covered.

However, for people on Medicare Supplement plans, often called Medigap Plans, there is a different Open Enrollment period every year. Thirty days prior and thirty days after your birthday, you can move to an equal or lesser benefit plan without having to answer any medical questions. Although a member can change from one Medicare Supplement to another Medicare Supplement at any time, if you are outside that 60 day window and do not qualify for a guaranteed issue enrollment period, you must answer medical history questions and there is a chance that the application is denied.

This Birthday Open Enrollment is a valuable opportunity to check the premiums of the same plans, or lesser value plans, to assess if any changes are appropriate. If it is advantageous to change, then with supporting documentation, your application is guaranteed to be accepted. This rule is especially significant if you have moved but you kept the same plan you had in another location. The monthly premium in your old zip code may have been the lowest premium at that time, but in your new area, another company may be a better value. Also, a member’s age can be a factor that may change the competiveness of a company’s rates, as well as a plan’s history of rate increases over time.

To take advantage of the Birthday Rule Open Enrollment in California you will need to provide proof of your current Medicare Supplement plan and make sure the application is received within the 60 day period. A knowledgeable independent licensed agent who works with multiple top-rated companies can help you through this review and process at no charge to you.