How to apply for a Medicare Supplement plan

Before you can buy a Supplement plan, you must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B.

Also, you can’t have both Medicare Advantage and a Medicare Supplement plan. If you already have a Medicare Advantage plan and want to switch to a Supplement plan, you’ll need to cancel your Medicare Advantage plan.

You’re not required to by a Supplement plan, but you should at least consider the possibility given your health, budget, and any future medical procedures you could face. Although a Supplement plan does not offer more coverage, it does provide a lot of additional financial coverage.

If you are going to enroll in a Supplement plan, the best time to do so is when you are first eligible. Enrolling at the right time will save you money and ensure you get approved for coverage.

If you wait, you may be denied coverage or have higher premiums and an involuntary Medicare waiting period.

When can I apply for a Medicare Supplement plan?

If you already have Original Medicare, the best time to add a Supplement plan is during your Initial Enrollment Period when you first become eligible for Medicare.

You can also enroll during your Open Enrollment Period (OEP), which is the six-month timeframe after you turn 65, and you first enroll in Part B. You may have delayed enrolling in Part B during your IEP because you had other coverage that has since ended.

During your OEP, Medigap companies must sell you a policy at the best possible rate regardless of your health issues. They can’t deny you coverage, but they can delay coverage for a period due to pre-existing conditions.

You also have a guaranteed issue right within 63 days after you lose your health coverage. A guaranteed issue right also prevents insurers from imposing a waiting period on you for coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

You can buy a Medigap policy outside of these periods, but you may run into problems. Companies can refuse to sell you a policy outside of a protected period or impose conditions based on your medical issues.