Medicare 101

I am not a financial advisor or insurance expert, but I can provide some general information on this topic.

When you become eligible for Medicare, you have an initial enrollment period to sign up for both Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). This initial enrollment period begins three months before the month you turn 65, includes your birthday month, and ends three months after your birthday month.

Medigap, also known as Medicare Supplement Insurance, is private insurance that helps cover some out-of-pocket costs not covered by Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). There is a one-time Medigap Open Enrollment Period (OEP) that starts when you are both 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B. The OEP lasts for six months.

During the Medigap OEP, insurance companies are required to sell you a Medigap policy regardless of your health status, and they cannot charge you a higher premium based on any pre-existing conditions. After this six-month period, you can still apply for Medigap, but insurance companies can use medical underwriting to determine your eligibility and premium rates.

It’s generally a good idea to start researching Medigap plans and considering your options before your Medigap OEP begins. This will give you time to compare different plans, providers, and costs, and ensure that you make an informed decision. You can sign up for a Medigap policy during your OEP, and in many cases, coverage will begin immediately after your Medicare Part B coverage starts.

However, before making any decisions, it’s important to consult with a licensed insurance agent or financial advisor, as they can provide personalized guidance based on your specific needs and circumstances.