Everything You Need to Know about Buying Medigap Plans

You can get the best deals on Medicare health insurance policies during specific periods in the year. Similarly, there are some norms associated with the purchase of this insurance. As per the rules and regulations levied by Medicare, you’re not allowed to buy health insurance plans at the same rates around the year. This brings up the question, when is the best time to buy Medicare supplement plans? Read along to find out more about this.

Buy on first eligibility
The best time to get yourself a Medicare supplement plan is when you become eligible to make the purchase for the first time. The initial 6-month window is listed as the most favorable time to buy Medigap supplement plans from the official Medicare website. This window will open when you turn 65 years old and are already enrolled in the Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). During this period, you can buy Medicare supplement plans that are sold in your state. You can make the purchase even if you have a pre-existing health condition. On the expiry of this 6-month period, you might not be allowed to purchase a Medicare supplement plan. Even if you are eligible for coverage, it might cost you a lot more than the original price of the policy.

Buying a Medicare supplement plan during the enrollment period
If you try to buy a Medicare supplement plan during the enrollment period, or any other period, the insurance companies will assess your application by using a medical underwriting. The insurance companies use this to determine the charges of Medigap insurance. However, this does not mean added scrutiny. During the initial period, the charges for applicants with good health and a health problem are the same.

Conditions for purchasing Medicare supplement plans
Here are some examples of different situations under which the conditions for purchasing Medicare supplement plans will differ:

If you are 65 or older
The enrollment period for Medigap supplement plans opens when you enroll in Part B. This period cannot be changed or repeated. If you’ve crossed this stage, you might have to pay a late enrollment penalty to get health insurance coverage.

If you are turning 65
The initial 6-month enrollment period starts on the first of the month when you will turn 65. For example, it will start on the 1st of March if your birthday falls in March. So, the 6-month window is open from March to July. The enrollment period also varies from state to state, so make sure that you check this in advance. However, if you purchase a Medigap policy at the end of the enrollment period, you will be required to pay an extra fee.

If you have group health coverage through a union or employer
If your spouse is working or you have health coverage provided by your employer, you might not need the Medicare Part B plan as the health coverage provided by employers is similar to Medigap policies. In this way, you can save some money that you would otherwise spend on multiple insurance policies. Once your spouse retires or your coverage ends, you will be eligible to enroll for Part B. However, an important point to note is that your enrollment period starts when you turn 65, regardless of whether you have an active employer-sponsored health coverage plan. If you don’t take a policy in the first six months, you might have to pay a late enrollment fee later.

Post the open enrollment period
If you submit an application for a Medigap supplement plan after the enrollment period ends, there is no guarantee that you will receive health coverage. Insurance companies can reject your enrollment application if you do not meet the medical underwriting requirements.

Some states offer the option of opting for Medicare SELECT. In this policy, you can also switch to a normal Medigap policy within 12 months of the tenure. You will be eligible for the benefits under the following conditions:

Health problems
If you are facing some health problem and wish to buy a policy during the enrollment period, you cannot be denied on account of the medical underwriting. They cannot make you wait or levy an extra charge on the policy either. However, if your enrollment period has come to an end, the company can deny you a Medigap policy because of your health condition.

Pre-existing condition
A medical insurance company can withhold your medical insurance if you suffer from a pre-existing condition. They can also refuse to cover out-of-pocket costs for 6 months, even if you have a Medigap policy. On completion of these 6 months, the Medigap policy will cover the pre-existing condition.

Other insurance
The Medigap enrollment period will start when you sign up for Part B if you already have a health coverage policy from your or your spouse’s union or employer.

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