Get Medigap Basics

Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) is extra insurance you can buy from a private insurance company to help pay your share of costs in Original Medicare. What types of insurance aren’t Medigap?  

You can only buy Medigap if you have Original Medicare. Generally, that means you have to sign up for Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) before you can buy a Medigap policy. 

You get a 6 month “Medigap Open Enrollment” period, which starts the first month you have Medicare Part B and you’re 65 or older. During this time, you can enroll in any Medigap policy and the insurance company can’t deny you coverage due to pre-existing health problems. After this period, you may not be able to buy a Medigap policy, or it may cost more. Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period is a one-time enrollment.  It doesn’t repeat every year, like the Medicare Open Enrollment Period. 

All Medigap policies are standardized. This means, they offer the same basic benefits no matter where you live or which insurance company you buy the policy from. There are 10 different types of Medigap plans offered in most states, which are named by letters: A-D, F, G, and K-N. Price is the only difference between plans with the same letter that are sold by different insurance companies. What else should I know about these lettered plans?

In some states, you may be able to buy another type of Medigap policy called Medicare SELECT . If you buy a Medicare SELECT policy, you have the right to change your mind within 12 months and switch to a standard Medigap policy.    

Important: In Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, Medigap policies are standardized in a different way.

Every Medigap policy must follow federal and state laws designed to protect you. It’s important to watch out for illegal practices by insurance companies, and protect yourself when you’re shopping for a Medigap policy.