I recently received the renewal for my Medicare Supplement and the rate increase is not in my budget. It is over 15% and every year it seems to go up, but not as much as this year. I’m a 70 year old female with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes controlled by pills. I’m confused about changing companies because I thought that Medicare enrollment ended in December. Can you please tell me what to do? Signed Cindy in Cypress
You are not alone. I have heard from many of my readers that their Medicare supplement insurance companies have had increases. The Medicare Enrollment Period ended on last Friday, December 7th. Open Enrollment is only for Medicare Advantage plans or Medicare Prescription Drug plans and does not include Medicare Supplements.
I have talked to more people who want to change their Medicare Supplement and do not realize that they can change their Medicare Supplement whenever they want. No matter what Medicare Supplement you have, it can be changed any day of the year!
The best time to enroll in a Medicare Supplement is during your the guaranteed issued period. This period is the six month period that starts on the first day of the month in which you are 65 years and enrolled in Part B or if you are past 65 and enrolled in Part B for the first time and you do not have to answer any health questions. The Medicare Supplement company you pick must accept you no matter what your health situation is.
From what you have told me, I do not believe this is a guaranteed issue situation and that you will have to answer health questions and meet the insurance companies underwriting requirements. That being said, you may want to talk with a few Medicare Supplement companies to see which one you can qualify because of your health conditions and medications that you are taking. Sometimes changing is not that easy if you cannot meet the underwriting requirements.
Caution: You may apply to replace your Medicare Supplement policy at any time. Do not cancel your existing policy until you have been approved by your new insurance company.
Cindy, one Medicare rule that you should be aware of since you are not happy with your rate increase from your current Medicare Supplement company is…if you had a Medicare Supplement policy before you joined a Medicare Advantage Plan for the first time, and you aren’t happy with the Medicare Advantage Plan, you will have special rights to buy a Medicare Supplement policy if you return back to “Original Medicare” within 12 months of first joining a Medicare Advantage plan. If you had a Medicare Supplement policy before you joined, you may be able to get the same plan back if the company still sells it. If it isn’t available, you can buy another Medicare Supplement policy. (Please see page 66 of the 2013 Medicare & You handbook for more information about this rule.
My husband is retired and has TRICARE. He will be 65 in December and was told he does not need to enroll in Part B because he has TRICARE. Can you explain what he should do? Thank you, Edith S…Houston, TX
There is only one (1) simple answer to your question that is found on page 21 of the 2013 Medicare & You handbook. The handbook states, “If you have Part A and TRICARE (coverage for active duty military or retirees and their families), you must have Part B to keep your TRICARE coverage. This statement is in bold, so it shows how important it is for you and your husband. You both should contact Social Security prior to turning 65 and enroll in Part B.
Toni King, author of the new Medicare Survival Guide, which is a simple guide that puts Medicare in “people” terms, is on sale at www.tonisays.com. Toni is an advocate/consultant for those “Confused about Medicare”. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 832/519-TONI (8664).