How do I buy a Medigap policy?
Health insurance companies must clearly identify a Medigap policy as "Medicare Supplement Insurance." Your best time to buy a policy is during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. Follow these steps when you’re ready to buy a Medigap policy:
Step 1 – Decide which plan you want
- Compare the benefits of each lettered plan.
- Think about your current and future health care needs. Decide which benefits you’ll need. Remember, you might not be able to switch policies later.
- Select the plan that meets your needs.
Step 2 – Pick your policy
- Find insurance companies selling the plan you want. You can buy a Medigap policy from any insurance company that's licensed in your state to sell one. As you shop for a policy, be sure you're comparing the same lettered plan offered by different insurance companies. For example, compare Plan A from one company with Plan A from another company.
Remember: Not all plans are offered in every state, and if a state offers a plan, not all insurance companies sell policies for it.
- Contact your State Insurance Department to see if they have any complaints against the insurance companies selling the plan you want.
- Contact your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to get free help choosing an insurance company in your area. SHIPs are state programs that give free local health insurance counseling to people with Medicare and their families. Ask your SHIP if they have a "Medigap rate comparison shopping guide" for your state.
Step 3 – Contact the company
- Get an official quote from the insurance company.
- When you’re ready to buy, contact the company and fill out the application.
- The insurance company must give you a clearly worded summary of your Medigap policy. Make sure you read it carefully and keep it for your files. If you don't understand it, ask questions.
After you buy a policy
Ask for your Medigap policy to become effective when you want coverage to start. Generally, Medigap policies begin the first of the month after you apply. But, if it's been 30 days and you didn't get your Medigap policy (like your Medigap card or proof of insurance), call your insurance company. If it's been 60 days and you didn't get your Medigap policy, call your State Insurance Department.
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. See more about illegal practices you should watch out for.
Call the Inspector General's hotline if you believe a federal law has been broken.