Medicare offers individuals a specific time period to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan. This period is called the “birthday rule” because this open enrollment time is only available 30 days after an individual’s birthday each year. This period allows individuals to change supplement plans during this timeframe without having to go through a wait period or complete a medical screening.
Individuals with a Medigap policy can use the birthday rule to purchase a different Medigap plan that is either equivalent to the plan they currently have or can choose a plan with reduced premiums. Those who have Medicare Advantage Plans have different enrollment periods and this rule does not apply to them
If an individual wants to change their Medicare Supplement Plan, they can easily do this during the thirty days following their birthday. With the simple completion of an online application, the change can be completed quickly, regardless of the condition of health.
If an individual misses their open enrollment period, they will normally have to submit to a completely new medical screening and wait through an approval period. Most seniors sign up for a Medicare supplement plan when they apply for Medicare benefits. This is also done during an open enrollment time, which is three months prior to and three months following the applicant’s 65th birthday. If choosing to wait until a later time to sign up for a Medicare supplement plan, the individual will have to provide a completely new medical screening, which could cause an increase in premium costs if new health problems have occurred.