New Medigap Bill Would Create an Annual Enrollment opportunity with no health screenings

Medigap, open enrollment, older woman with expression of "Yes!" with turquoise background

Currently, opportunities for Medicare beneficiaries to enroll in a Medigap policy without a health screening are few and far between. The main opportunity is when one first turns 65 and/or becomes eligible for Medicare, followed by other very specific and limited open enrollment and guaranteed issue rights corresponding to certain circumstances or life events. This is in sharp contrast with the ample opportunities that beneficiaries have to enroll into or switch Medicare Advantage plans with no health screenings (at least two a year). Yet, on February 15, 2024, Senator Catherine Blakespear introduced a new bill, SB 1236, that will change this. SB 1236 is a result of decades of work Bonnie Burns, our Training and Policy Specialist, and other advocates have worked tirelessly for and we are thrilled.

In sum, this bill will create an annual open enrollment opportunity for Medicare beneficiaries to choose a Medigap policy during the same time frame as the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, which is January 1st to March 31st each year. This bill creates more parity with the rights of Medicare beneficiaries to move from one Medicare Advantage (MA) plan to another each year, or leave an MA plan by creating the same right to choose a Medigap plan. Medicare beneficiaries will be able to choose the most appropriate Medigap or MA coverage each year without being rejected for a health condition.

“I am thrilled to see a bill like this finally introduced to the legislature,” said Bonnie Burns, nationally recognized Medigap rights advocate and Training and Policy Specialist for California Health Advocates. “SB 1236, cosponsored by California Health Advocates, will give Medicare beneficiaries the right to select from the full range of Medicare options each year when choosing the most appropriate coverage for their own needs.”

Read the press release, and see the Senate Bill 1236 text for more details. Also, please contact your state senators to voice your support of SB 1236 – Medicare Supplement Coverage: Open Enrollments. See our website for more information on Medigap coverage.

Karen Joy Fletcher

Our blogger Karen Joy Fletcher is CHA’s Communications Director. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she is the online “public face” of the organization, provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare and other health care issues. She is responsible for digital content creation, management of CHA’s editorial calendar, and managing all aspects of CHA’s social media presence. She loves being a “communicator” and enjoys networking and collaborating with the passionate people and agencies in the health advocacy field. See her current articles.