Medicare supplement insurance policies, commonly called Medigaps, are health insurance policies that offer standardized benefits to work with Original Medicare (not with Medicare Advantage). They are sold by private insurance companies. If you have a Medigap, it pays part or all of certain cost-sharing “gaps” that remain after Original Medicare pays first. Depending on where you live, you have up to 10 different Medigap policies to choose from: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N (policies in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Minnesota have different names). Each policy offers a different set of standardized benefits that ranges from basic to more comprehensive. Standardization means that policies with the same letter name offer the same benefits.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to purchase a Medigap policy during Fall Open Enrollment, but certain limitations apply as to who can buy a Medigap and when. There are federal protections for people over 65 to purchase a Medigap in certain situations, and some states offer additional enrollment protections.
You may run into problems if you try to buy a Medigap outside a protected Medigap enrollment period. For instance, companies can refuse to sell you one or impose certain medical requirements. If a company does agree to sell you a policy, you may need to pay a higher monthly premium and be subject to a six-month waiting period before the Medigap will cover pre-existing conditions. Be sure to contact Medigap insurers in your state to learn if they will sell you a Medigap policy outside protected enrollment periods.
Also note that in some states if you currently have Original Medicare and a Medigap, you may not be able to purchase a Medigap again in the future if you drop Original Medicare to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan.
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