For some of the large expenses Medicare Parts A and B do not pay for, many retirees purchase a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan known as “Medigap” insurance. Sold by private insurance companies, a Medigap policy offers the peace of mind that the large health care costs that Medicare doesn’t cover will be taken care of for you.
Medigap Open Enrollment Period
If you plan to purchase a Medigap policy, you have a 6-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period which starts the first month you’re 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B. During this 6-month period, you have the guaranteed right to buy any Medigap policy sold in your state. You cannot be turned down due to your current health status or a pre-existing medical condition. However, once this period starts, it can’t be delayed or replaced, so it’s important that you take action.
Medigap Is Regulated
Medigap policies are required to follow both Federal and state laws. This regulation is designed to protect you. Each Medigap policy is required to be clearly identified as “Medicare Supplement Insurance.”
For your protection, a “standardized” policy will be identified by letters A–N. All policies offer the same basic benefits. Some policies provide additional benefits too. If you need assistance choosing a plan that meets your needs, your Medicare agent can assist you. If you live in Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, your Medigap policy has a different standardization method. Please call us for details.
Please note that plans E, H, I, and J have been phased out by Medicare. If you are already enrolled in one of these plans you can keep it. Contact your Medicare agent for more information about your plan and if switching is right for you.
Medigap Premiums Are Not Regulated
Although Medigap policies are regulated, their premiums are not. Insurance companies apply different premiums for the same policy. Be sure to compare both the policy and the premium when you shop. Also, some states offer an additional Medigap policy known as Medicare SELECT. These policies require you to use specific hospitals, and in some cases specific doctors and other health care providers, in order to receive full coverage. If you discover that your Medigap SELECT policy isn’t working for you, don’t worry. You have 12 months to change your mind and switch back to a standard Medigap policy.
State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)
Not all ten plans (labeled “A” through “N”) are available in all states. For information about Medicare supplement insurance plans available in your state, contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) or call your licensed Medicare agent.