Medicare: Purchasing a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Plan

There are many things to consider when purchasing a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan. Here is a helpful step-by-step guide.

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Step 1. Decide which plan

  • Compare the benefits of each lettered plan.
  • Think about current and future health care needs. Decide which benefits will be needed, keeping in mind that your loved one might not be able to switch policies later. 
  • Select the plan that meets those needs.

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Step 2. Pick the policy

  • Find insurance companies that sell the plan your loved one wants. A Medigap policy can be purchased from any insurance company that's licensed in their state to sell one. While shopping for a policy, be sure to compare 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.
  • Shop by price. The benefits in each lettered plan are the same, no matter which insurance company sells it. Price is the only difference between policies with the same letter sold by different companies. Costs can vary widely between companies, so contact more than one company that sells Medigap policies to get an estimate.
  • Contact the State Insurance Department to see if they have any complaints against the insurance companies selling the plans. 
  • Contact the local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to get free help choosing an insurance company in the area. SHIPs are state programs that give free local health insurance counseling to people with Medicare and their families. Ask the SHIP if they have a statewide "Medigap rate comparison shopping guide."

Step 3. Contact the company 

  • Get an official quote from the insurance company.  
  • When ready to buy, contact the company and fill out the application.
  • The insurance company must provide a clearly worded summary of the Medigap policy. Make sure to read it carefully and file it. Ask questions about anything that isn't clear or requires more details.

After the Medicare/Medigap Open Enrollment Period ends, insurance companies don’t have to sell your loved one a Medigap policy, except in specific circumstances. If they qualify, they’ll need to give the company proof of their situation (like copies of letters, notices, or emails).

After purchasing a policy

Ask for the Medigap policy to become effective when your loved one wants coverage to start. Generally, Medigap policies begin the first of the month after application.  But, if it's been 30 days and your loved one didn't get the Medigap policy (like Medigap card or proof of insurance), call the insurance company. If it's been 60 days and still no Medigap policy, call the State Insurance Department.

Every Medigap policy must follow federal and state laws designed to protect your loved one.

Licensed independent insurance brokers

We highly recommend that if you or your loved one are interested in exploring Medigap plans, you contact a licensed independent insurance broker who specializes in Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Supplement for a discussion on all the options.

  • They work with you to narrow down the plan choices and find the best fit.
  • They do not work to increase sales and membership of any one insurance provider.
  • The services of a licensed independent insurance broker are free to you.

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