How to enroll in Medicare Supplement

For most Medicare recipients, the enrollment process doesn’t end with Part A and Part B coverage. If you want to fill in the gaps, you may enroll into Medicare Supplement Insurance. Learn how to pick the right Medigap policy and navigate the Medicare Supplement Insurance application process successfully.

Understand What Medigap Policies Cover

Original Medicare includes Part A, which covers inpatient hospital costs and nursing home stays, and Part B, which covers outpatient services, doctor visits, and preventive services. Together, Part A and Part B provide good coverage for both inpatient and outpatient services, but they leave most enrollees with serious coverage gaps.

That’s why Medicare Supplement Insurance, or Medigap, policies are so important. The 10 federally-standardized policies help cover deductibles, copayments, and excess charges. Because all standard Medigap plans are guaranteed renewable for life, you can rely on this coverage for decades to come.

Know When You’re Eligible For Medicare Supplement Insurance

You can’t get Medicare Supplement Insurance until you have Medicare Part A and Part B. If you qualify for Medicare coverage based on your age, then you become eligible when you turn 65. The Medicare initial enrollment period starts three months before your 65th birthday and lasts for seven months.

Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period starts at the beginning of the first month that you’re both 65 years old and you have Medicare Part A and Part B. This Medicare Supplement enrollment period lasts for six months.

Identify The Best Time To Apply For A Medigap Policy

While Original Medicare is a federally-sponsored program, Medigap is a private plan. The two types of insurance follow standardized rules and integrate seamlessly, but Medicare Supplement Insurance is available from private insurance companies. To get one of these plans, you’ll need to apply with the insurer.

The best time to do so is during your Medigap open enrollment period. During this six-month period, insurance companies can’t deny you coverage. In fact, private insurance providers also have to sell you a Medigap plan for a standard rate during open enrollment.

In certain situations, you might also be able to apply for a Medigap policy outside of open enrollment. You have guaranteed issue rights if you’re in one of the following situations:

  • You’re covered by Original Medicare and an employer health plan, but the latter is ending.
  • You ended a prior Medigap policy when you purchased a Medicare Advantage Plan, but you’ve changed your mind. It’s been less than a year, and you want to go back to Original Medicare and Medigap.
  • The private insurer that provides your Medigap plan goes bankrupt and ends your coverage through no fault of your own.

If you don’t have guaranteed issue rights and you’ve missed open enrollment, you might still be able to apply for a Medigap policy. However, you will be required to answer health questions to qualify for coverage.

Choose The Right Medigap Policy For You

Throughout most of the United States, you can choose from 10 standardized Medicare Supplement Insurance plans, but if you live in Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, your choices are different. Depending on where you live, multiple insurance companies might offer the same standardized Medigap policy. Insurance companies don’t have to offer every policy option, but must offer at least a few.

To pick the right Medigap policy, determine what you want out of the extra coverage. If you want comprehensive coverage, including foreign travel exchange, Plan F or Plan G could be a smart choice.

If Available, Select From Pricing Types

All Medigap plans are subject to a monthly premium. These costs can vary substantially since private insurers set the prices. All policies follow one of three Medigap pricing systems:

  • Community-Rated: All enrollees pay the same monthly premium.
  • Issue-Age-Rated: Your premium depends on your age when you first bought the policy.
  • Attained-Age-Rated: Your premium depends on your current age and might increase every year.

Once you’ve identified the right Medigap policy for your needs, submit your application and look forward to comprehensive health care coverage. If you want to switch Medigap policies or otherwise enhance your coverage in the future, however, you’ll need to stay up to date on your options.

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