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About Purchasing Medigap Insurance

Copyright © 2014 AARP. All rights reserved.

Medicare supplemental insurance — always known as Medigap — isn’t a government program. It’s private supplemental insurance you can choose to buy separately to reduce your costs in the traditional Medicare program.

If you don’t have supplemental coverage from elsewhere (such as retiree benefits) and can afford the extra premiums, Medigap is worth considering. It pays many of the co-pays and deductibles you’d otherwise pay out of your own pocket, plus some extra coverage, depending on the specific policy you buy.

This section considers the ins and outs of Medigap policies, how to compare them and choose the one that best suits your needs, and when to buy one (even if you’re under 65). But first, here are some important facts to know upfront about Medigap:

  • You must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B.

  • You can use Medigap insurance only if you’re enrolled in traditional Medicare. It doesn’t work with a Medicare Advantage plan.

  • You must pay a monthly premium in addition to your Part B premium.

  • Medigap provides no coverage for prescription drug costs unless you still have an old policy that you bought before 2006.

  • If you’re 65 and older, you get important consumer protections under federal law — but only if you buy a policy at the right time. During specific time frames, an insurance company can’t deny you coverage or charge higher premiums for current or past health problems.

  • If you’re under 65, you don’t get these federal protections, but some states have laws that give similar rights to their residents.

For more detailed information on buying Medigap insurance, see the official publication Choosing a Medigap Policy.

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