Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are my options when I lose my employer group health coverage?
A. When you lose your employer-based group health plan, you have some special provisions, as required by Medicare, for enrolling in a Medicare Supplement plan. Keep in mind that plans that are offered through employers are, in most cases, NOT a Medicare Supplement. So if you have one of these plans, you do not have a plan that is designed to work with Medicare.
When you lose your employer group coverage, it is important to understand what Medicare Supplements are and how they work. First, you should know that the plans are federally-standardized. There are absolutely no variations from one company to another for a “like” plan. This just means that a Plan "F" or Plan "G" with one company is exactly the same as a Plan "F" or Plan "G" with another company. This makes comparing the plans, based on premium and company reputation, very easy to do.
Second, it is essential to understand the eligibility implications of your loss of employer coverage. If you already have Medicare A and B and are over age 65, you do NOT have an open enrollment period but rather a “guaranteed issue” period to sign up for a plan. This terminology can be confusing but it’s essentially the same thing. “Guaranteed issue” allows you 63 days to sign up for a Medicare Supplement plan to start on a date that coincides with when your employer plan ends. You can do this with no health questions or pre-existing condition restrictions. You cannot be turned down for a Medicare Supplement plan or made to pay more because of your health. It is imperative that you take advantage of this time period. It only occurs once and, when it’s over, you can’t get it back.
Finally, it is important to understand how to compare the plans. As mentioned above, it is essential to base this on the only two things that differ from one company to another – premium and company rating and reputation. Generally speaking, you can obtain most companies’ quotes online. This can help you compare all of the options in a centralized place so that you can make an informed, unbiased choice.
If you have questions about your eligibility for a Medicare Supplement plan or if you are losing your employer coverage, it is advisable that you contact a NCSCA Medicare Advisor to get more information and discuss your Medicare supplement options.