2015 Open Enrollment & Medigap
The 2015 Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP) is fast approaching. During this time, you can make changes to your Medicare coverage, such as joining or leaving a Medicare Advantage Plan and/or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. If you are at least 65 years old and already enrolled in Medicare Parts A & B (Original Medicare), you do not need to wait until the 2015 Medicare OEP to buy a Medigap insurance policy. You can buy one at any time. The only exception is if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you can use the 2015 Medicare OEP to switch back to Original Medicare, which would make you eligible for a Medicare Supplement insurance policy. You cannot buy a Medicare Supplement insurance policy while enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan.
The Medicare OEP is an annual enrollment period when you can add, drop, or change Medicare coverage plans. The 2015 Medicare OEP runs from October 15, 2014 to December 7, 2014. The changes made during this period will take effect on January 1, 2015. During the Medicare OEP, you can join or leave a Medicare Advantage Plan and/or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. For more details, read Medicare.gov’s full explanation of Medicare Part C and D enrollment periods.
The 2015 Medicare OEP is different from your personal Medigap OEP. Your Medigap OEP is a one-time period when you can enroll in Medicare Supplement insurance for the first time. It begins the first day of the month in which you are both 65 years old and enrolled in both Medicare Parts A and B, and it lasts for 6 months. You do not have to buy a Medigap policy during the Medicare OEP or even during your Medigap OEP. You can apply for a Medigap policy, or change policies, any time of the year, as long as you are enrolled in Medicare Part B and are not enrolled a Medicare Advantage Plan. Although you can enroll in a Medigap policy any time, it is best to enroll in a policy during your Medigap OEP. During your Medigap OEP, insurance companies cannot deny you a policy or charge you a higher premium because of pre-existing conditions. If you wait to enroll after your Medigap OEP has ended (and you do not have a guaranteed issue right) you could face medical underwriting and higher premiums. For more information about enrolling in a Medigap policy before and after your OEP, read our page about buying a Medicare Supplement insurance policy.
You cannot have both a Medicare Advantage plan and Medicare Supplement insurance at the same time. If you want to switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to a Medigap plan, you must first leave your Medicare Advantage plan and switch back to Original Medicare during the 2015 Medicare OEP. Once you are out of your Medicare Advantage Plan and back into Original Medicare, you can then apply for a Medigap policy.