Medicare is relied upon by millions of Americans, including seniors 65 years of age or older and individuals under the age of 65 with certain disabilities. Medicare coverage is a vital part of health and wellness for many individuals, as it includes coverage for healthcare expenses for a wide range of care. The Medicare program serves a vital role in the American healthcare system, but it’s important to understand your options and when you can enroll.

Original Medicare helps cover the costs of a wide range of medically necessary services and supplies, but many beneficiaries find that their out-of-pocket costs with Part A and Part B are too high. Supplemental insurance, or Medigap, may be the solution.

Defining Medicare Supplemental Insurance
Medicare supplemental insurance, or Medigap, is an insurance product that is provided by private insurance companies to help cover things that Original Medicare benefits does not, such as deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance. Medigap policies are standardized by the federal government and identified as letters, but costs and benefits can vary between plans. Depending on where you live, it is likely that you will not be able to purchase a Medigap policy until you are 65 years old.

When Does Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Occur?
Your initial 6-month Medigap enrollment period begins when you turn 65 years of age and you are enrolled in Part B. During this period of time, you can purchase any Medigap policy sold in your state. You have a guaranteed issue right to purchase a plan, and cannot be denied or charged more for a plan due to pre-existing conditions. When this period ends, you may be subject to medical underwriting, and you can be turned down or charged higher premiums for a Medigap policy.

Special Exceptions
There may be exceptions for Medicare recipients with special circumstances. If someone receives Original Medicare and has enrolled in supplemental insurance after enrolling in Part B, but then begins working again and takes part in an employer’s healthcare plan, that individual may be able to receive another six-month open enrollment period upon going back into retirement after leaving the employer’s coverage.

Also, if someone suffers from a disability under the age of 65 and receives Medicare benefits, that person may be able to once again receive a six-month open enrollment period upon reaching the age of 65. This is meant to provide the same level of access to all individuals who receive Original Medicare.

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Do Medigap Premiums Increase With Age? (Opens in a new browser tab)

What Does Medigap Cost? (Opens in a new browser tab)