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Deadlines to Know
The Open Enrollment Period to purchase a Medigap policy in any state lasts for six (6) months and begins on the first day of the month in which you are both age 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
During this Open Enrollment Period, an insurer cannot deny you coverage for any reason including pre-existing conditions. The insurer cannot charge you a higher premium for the pre-existing condition or other health and life style factors. The insurer can, however, delay coverage of a pre-existing condition for up to six months, but it must cover the pre-existing condition after six months. Except in certain situations, this open-enrollment period is the only time an insurance company is required to sell you a Medigap policy.
Every year, there is also an open enrollment from October 15 to December 7 for Medicare Advantage policies that will become effective on January 1. This is your opportunity each year to review your current coverage. You can shop around for either the same plan at a better price with another company or a different plan altogether. Or you can change to Original Medicare with a Medigap policy.
If you took out a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time, you may cancel that plan and return to Original Medicare within 12 months of taking out the Medicare Advantage plan. You can then also buy a Medigap policy if you like. If you took out a Medicare Advantage plan when you first became eligible for Medicare you may choose any Medigap policy.
Between January 1 and February 14, if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan you can change back to Original Medicare and may choose to enroll with a Medigap plan. You will not have the same automatic rights to enroll with a Medigap plan if you are outside of your open-enrollment period for Medigap.
Even if you end up not changing your plan, it is always prudent to review your coverage and the price you’re paying to make sure it is the best you can do.