At age 65, most people qualify for their Initial Enrollment period with Medicare. It’s during this time that you can buy a Medicare Supplement without having to answer health questions. Typically, you only get one Initial Enrollment period. It begins three months before the month of your Medicare eligibility and ends three months after the month of eligibility. The month of eligibility is the month of your 65th birthday, if you become eligible for Medicare because you are turning 65 years old.
The Initial Enrollment period is a great opportunity for people to get Medicare health insurance. That’s because, typically, insurance companies must use medical underwriting to determine whether to accept your application. However, if you enroll during your Initial Enrollment period, you can buy any Medicare Supplement policy (that’s available in your area) without having to answer health questions and insurers can’t deny issuance of your policy.
It’s important to note that people with Medicare, due to disability, will be eligible for a second Initial Enrollment period at age 65. The same way anyone else becoming eligible for Medicare, for the first time, qualifies at age 65.
In most cases, Medicare Supplements pay what Medicare doesn’t cover at the hospital and doctor’s office. However, Medicare Supplements do not cover the majority of prescription drugs.
For drug coverage, you should consider enrolling in a Medicare Prescription Drug plan. Also known as Part D, this is separate and voluntary insurance that may help lower your prescription drug out-of-pocket costs. As with Medicare Supplements, private insurance companies offer Part D drug plans.
Although Part D is deemed “voluntary”, there are consequences for not enrolling in a qualified drug plan when you first become eligible for Medicare. That penalty is about 32 cents per month for every month that you could have enrolled but didn’t. The penalty is a lifetime carry which often times surprises people.
It’s important to compare Medicare Supplement benefits and prices before you decide which plan is right for you. That’s because all Medicare Supplements are standardized which means the plans offered and the benefits in those plans are the same for all companies.
There can be big differences in the premiums that different insurance companies charge for exactly the same coverage. By shopping and comparing, you could save hundreds of dollars per year.
There is a free service that can help you choose wisely by providing you with a list of companies who offer the most coverage at the lowest price, in your area.