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Learn more about open enrollment for Medigap supplemental health insurance

Maryalene LaPonsie | December 9, 2010

When can I buy a Medigap policy?

Question: When can I buy a Medicare supplement insurance policy?

Answer:  According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the ideal time to purchase a Medicare supplemental health insurance policy, or Medigap plan, is your open enrollment period.

The Medigap open enrollment period spans six months and begins on the first day of the month that you are both age 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B coverage. During the open enrollment window you are guaranteed the right to purchase any Medigap policy you'd like at the same premium rate as people in good health.

You can still purchase Medicare supplement insurance outside of your open enrollment window, but, depending on your health, insurance companies can charge you higher premiums or choose not to sell you a Medigap plan.

There is another special situation, called a trial right, when you have the right to buy a Medigap policy. If you join a Medicare Advantage plan, such as an HMO or PPO, and are not happy with the insurance coverage, you have the right to buy a Medigap plan should you switch back to original Medicare within 12 months.

Medigap information to keep in mind

As you compare your Medicare insurance options, it is important to remember the following information about Medigap policies:

  • Medigap is supplemental health insurance that covers the 'gaps' in original Medicare.
  • You must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B to purchase a Medigap plan.
  • Medigap cannot be sold to individuals with Medicare Advantage coverage, and Medigap health plans will not pay for any Medicare Advantage expenses.
  • The government requires that Medigap plans be standardized and labeled A-N. When you compare insurance quotes, remember that all plans with the same letter will have the same benefits.
  • Medigap policies can only cover one person. If you are married, your spouse will need to purchase their own plan.

Some states have other open enrollment rights for Medigap policies. For state specific information on enrolling in one of these supplemental health insurance plans, call the Medicare hotline at 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227).

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