Buying supplemental health insurance: Medigap


Unfortunately, Medicare won’t cover all of your health-care costs during retirement. You may want to buy a supplemental medical insurance policy known as Medigap; offered by private insurance companies, to help fill in the gaps in your coverage.

When’s the best time to buy a Medigap policy?
Your open enrollment period is the best time to buy a Medigap policy, because you can’t be turned down or charged more due to poor health. If you are age 65 or older, your open enrollment period starts on the first day of the month in which you are both 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B.

If you don’t buy a Medigap policy during open enrollment, you may not be able to buy the policy of your choice later. Insurers have greater freedom to deny applications or charge higher premiums for health reasons once open enrollment closes.

What does Medigap cover?
Each Medigap plan offers a different set of benefits. All cover certain out-of-pocket costs, including Medicare coinsurance amounts. Some plans also cover other costs, such as all or part of Medicare Part A and Part B deductibles, foreign travel emergency costs and Medicare Part B excess charges. Medigap policies do not cover certain health care expenses, including long-term care, vision and dental care or prescription drugs.

Are all Medigap policies created equal?
Although Medigap policies are sold through private insurance companies, they’re standardized and regulated by state and federal law. However, the quality of the companies that offer the plans may differ. Look closely at each company’s reputation, financial strength and customer service standards. Also, keep in mind, Medigap premiums vary widely, both from company to company and from state to state.

Does everyone need Medigap?
No. In fact, it’s illegal for an insurance company to sell you a Medigap policy that substantially duplicates any existing coverage you have, including Medicare coverage. In general, you won’t need a Medigap policy if you participate in a Medicare managed care plan or private fee-for-service plan or if you qualify for Medicaid or have group coverage through your spouse.

If you choose to work past age 65 and have employer-sponsored health insurance, you may not need to purchase a Medigap policy until your employer-sponsored health insurance ends. If you find yourself in this situation, you will want to enroll in Medicare Part A at age 65. Medicare Part A will cover services associated with inpatient hospital care and your employer-sponsored health insurance will cover other medical care. When your employer-sponsored health insurance ends, you will need to enroll in Medicare Part B. Remember, your Medigap open enrollment period begins when you sign up for Medicare Part B. If you don’t buy a Medigap policy within six months from the time your employer’s coverage ends, you may be denied coverage later or charged a higher premium.

Finally, you may not need to buy a Medigap policy if you are covered by an employer-sponsored health plan after you retire.

For more information, including which Medigap plans are available in Iowa, visit

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2016.

Speak Your Mind