What is Open Enrollment?

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What is Open Enrollment?

In its broadest sense, an “open enrollment period” is the time anyone is allowed to ask for, and be given insurance and cannot be denied coverage. But there are different open enrollment periods for different parts of Medicare.

Medicare Parts A & B

Medicare Parts A & B have an open enrollment period of three months before you turn 65, the month you turn, and three months after. If you are collecting social security already, you do not need to take any action. Medicare’s card comes to you automatically. If you are not taking social security when you turn 65, you will need to contact your social security office to sign up for Medicare during this period.

Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans

Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans have two open enrollment periods. The first is the same all around the country. It is a one‐time‐only, 6‐month period when federal law allows you to buy any supplement policy you want that is sold in your state. It starts in the first month that you’re covered under Medicare Part B, and you’re 65 or older. During this period, you can’t be denied a Medicare supplement policy or be charged more due to past or present health problems.

The second open enrollment period varies by state. In many states, the open enrollment period is simply the six month period before the federal open enrollment period begins. However, some states shorten that period, and some states might have the open enrollment period return annually. Check with your own state’s Senior Health Information Services Department to be sure, or seek counseling from a knowledgeable insurance advisor for specifics where you live.

For the states we serve: The Open Enrollment Periods for Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans are:

Ohio & Kentucky: 6 months before you turn 65 AND have Medicare part B and the first 6 months after. A total of 12 months. This period is once in a lifetime and never returns.

West Virginia: 1 month before you turn 65 AND have Medicare part B and the first 6 months after. A total of 7 months. This period is once in a lifetime and never returns.

Medicare Advantage & Part D Open Enrollment Periods

Medicare Advantage and Part D open enrollment periods are different than Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans. Your first enrollment, called your “initial enrollment period” coincides with your initial enrollment into Medicare Parts A & B, in other words, 3 months before your enrollment into Medicare begins, the month of, and three months after. For many people, this is when you are 65, however, it can be earlier if you get Medicare due to a disability, or later if you have deferred your Medicare Part B due to other insurance being in place. After your initial enrollment ends, both Medicare Advantage and Part D have an annual open enrollment period, known as the Annual Election Period. It happens October 15 – December 7 of each year. During that time, you are allowed to choose a new plan, with only one health question to answer. If you make a selection during this time, an insurance company is not allowed to deny you the new coverage they are offering for the coming year.

It is important you are aware of your enrollment period options when deciding on the type of health insurance you wish to get. Also be aware that in many states, a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan is available for purchase outside of an open enrollment period, in other words, you can attempt to get a supplement at any time. However, after your open enrollment period for Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans is over, an insurance company is allowed to deny you coverage based on pre-existing conditions. For more information, please seek out counseling from a knowledgeable insurance advisor for your appropriate Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan options.

Note: the Affordable Care Act’s removal of pre-existing conditions in health insurance does NOT apply to Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans outside of open enrollment unless your state has other rules in place.

The benefit information provided is a brief summary, not a complete description of benefits. For more information, contact your plan. 

Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply.

Benefits, formulary, pharmacy network, provider network, premium and/or copayments/co-insurance may change on January 1 of each year.

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