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October 21, 2020
Do I Need to Do Anything With My Medicare Supplement Plan?

Do I Need to Do Anything With My Medicare Supplement Plan?

Whether you’re entirely new to Medicare or you’ve been a Medicare participant for a while, you may have questions about your Medicare Supplement plan, such as “What do I need to do with my Medicare Supplement plan this year?”

Medicare Supplements are handled very differently from Medicare Advantage plans, and many individuals don’t know this!

Remember that our team of licensed agents is always willing to help you, so please feel free to contact us at any time for individualized help.

Originally published in July 2018. Updated October 2020.

[RELATED: Do you have to have a supplement with Medicare?]

When Can You Get a Medicare Supplement?

I have Medicare now; do I need to do anything else?

For starters, you need to understand when you can first get a Medicare Supplement. In sum, if you’re eligible for Medicare, you’re eligible for a Medicare Supplement.

The month you turn 65, you’re eligible for the open enrollment period. This lasts for the next six months. For example, if you turn 65 in January and enroll in Medicare Part B, you can purchase a Medicare Supplement from January to June.

Even if you’re 65, though, you can choose to put off signing up for Medicare, which means you can also put off signing up for a Medicare Supplement. This is really common if you’re 65 but are still working. If you’re on a group plan provided by your employer, you don’t really need Medicare health coverage just yet.

[RELATED: Working Past 65?]

What Should You Do With Your Medicare Supplement Each Year?

The Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period starts October 15th and ends on December 7th of each year. During this enrollment period, you’re likely getting swamped with advertisements, mailers, and phone calls from people trying to get you to switch or buy a new Medicare plan. But what you need to know is that for Medicare Supplements, there is no annual enrollment required!

Your renewal date for your Medicare Supplement could be any time of the year. Let’s say you turned 65 in April, so your Medicare Supplement became effective that month. That means that your personal renewal date for your Medicare Supplement is in April.

Do I Need to Renew My Medicare Plan?

So, what do you need to do when your renewal month comes around, if anything?

Guaranteed Renewable

Here’s the good news: your Medicare Supplement plan is guaranteed renewable for life. That means that no matter what happens to your health, you are always allowed to keep your Medicare Supplement. The only exception is if you stop making the monthly payments for any reason.

Even if you move from one state to another or travel often, you get to keep your Medicare Supplement plan. You’re able to see any doctor that accepts Medicare anywhere in the country.

The only reason to make any changes to your Medicare Supplement is if you see a significant rate increase.

Handling Rate Increases

Your Medicare Supplement company will notify you of any potential rate changes 30-45 days in advance. Every year, your supplement price will increase, which is expected. Medicare Supplements always increase a little bit every year with age, but if that increase is significant, it might be worthwhile to ask one of our agents to shop around for a better price.

However, you should be aware that if you do want to switch, you’ll have to pass health underwriting questions. Most of the time, the health underwriting questions will ask you things like:

  1. Do you have diabetes with any major complications?
  2. Have you been diagnosed with cancer, any major heart conditions, alcoholism, etc. in the past 2-3 years?
  3. Have you had a heart attack in the last year?

If you can answer “no” to questions like this, you’ll be able to pass underwriting with no problem. Each company follows the same general pattern of questioning, but there can be slight differences in the questions, so just be honest with our agents about your health to make sure you’ll be able to qualify.

What About Medicare Advantage Plans?

Like we mentioned earlier in this article, Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are treated very differently from Medicare Supplements. You absolutely want to review your Medicare Advantage plan each and every year during the open enrollment period, which starts October 15 and ends December 7.

Unlike Medicare Supplements, MA plans can and do change. Perhaps your deductible went way up or your favorite doctor is no longer in your plan’s network.

In this case, you will want to switch plans. The good news is once you choose a new plan, you’ll be automatically disenrolled from your old plan when the new plan’s coverage starts.

If you happen to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan during open enrollment and you realize you don’t like it, you are allowed to get out of it! To drop your Medicare Advantage plan, you can disenroll during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period at the beginning of the year, you can use your “trial right” to switch plans, or you can make a change during a Special Enrollment Period.

You can read more about how that works in the article How to Get Out of a Medicare Advantage Plan.

Learn What to do If you Already Have Medicare Health Coverage

What About Medicare Part D Drug Plans?

You also want to take a look at your Medicare Part D drug plan every year. The premiums can change, covered drugs can change, and pricing can change, so be sure to ask one of our agents to help you if you need assistance.

You are allowed to change your drug plan each year during open enrollment, which is October 15-December 7.

If you need any help with anything at all, please contact our team! We’d be honored to help you with all things Medicare.

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Luke Hockaday
By
Luke Hockaday
Luke Hockaday is a Customer Success Rep here at Medicare Allies. Luke has been helping Medicare-eligible clients with their insurance and retirement-planning needs since 2011. Luke is passionate about 3 things, and 3 things only: senior insurance, football, and food!

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