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Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
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"Medigap" is the name given to health insurance policies issued by insurance companies to supplement the benefits of Original Fee-For-Service Medicare. These policies are also sometimes called "Medicare Supplement Policies."

Medigap coverage is designed to pay portions of medical bills that Medicare does not pay -- including deductibles, coinsurance, and charges above Medicare covered amounts.

Medigap policies only supplement Original Fee-for-Service Medicare. Medigap policies will not pay for services not covered under Original Medicare. (Medicare pays first. Medigap pays part or all of any remaining money due.)

Medicare Advantage policies, such as Medicare Advantage: HMOs are not supplemented by Medigap coverage.

Medigap policies are difficult for anyone with a life-changing condition to obtain except during periods of "Open Enrollment. " Medigap policies are medically underwritten except during such periods.

When choosing a Medigap policy:

  • Determine what medical expenditures you are likely to have which are not covered by Original Medicare. For example, deductibles and co-insurance.
  • Keep in mind that Medigap policies usually only cover services which are approved by Medicare.
  • If you travel outside the United States, look for a Medigap policy that provides emergency care outside the U.S.  (Medicare doesn't cover outside the United States). 
  • Medigap policies are standardized across the country by alphabet. Each letter covers a specific set of benefits.
  • Buy smart. Buy early.

For additional information, see:

For individual questions about Medicare, consider contacting:


Medicare SELECT Plans

Medicare SELECT plans are a special type of Medigap policy. There are the same number of plans as with regular Medigap coverage, but with Medicare SELECT, you must use the insurance company's network of physicians and hospitals to get the full Medigap benefits. There is an exception for life threatening emergency care.

The advantage of the SELECT plans is that SELECT plans are generally priced lower than comparable Medigap plans that lets you use any doctor or hospital. At the same time, your choice of medical provider is limited to those providers in the network. 

Guaranteed Renewability Of Medigap Plans

All Medigap policies must be guaranteed renewable, meaning that the insurance company must allow you to renew the policy unless:

  • It can be proved that you made a misrepresentation to obtain the coverage, OR
  • If the policy lapses for non-payment of premiums.

Medigap Premiums

Although all companies write one or all of the same ten plans, the rates will vary from one company to the next. Medigap premiums can increase from one year to the next.

Any increases must be given to all who have the same coverage in the same area and are the same age.  You cannot be singled out for an increase because of your use of the plan benefits.

There are several ways an insurance company may rate its Medigap policies:

  • Attained Age: The rates will go up when you reach certain age plateaus such as age 70, 75, and 80.
  • Issue Age: Under this method you stay in the same rate bracket as when you joined the policy. While your rates may go up each year, you will still be paying what others are paying who are the same age as you were at the time of issue. For example, if you buy an Issue Age Medigap policy at age 65, you will continue to pay what 65 year olds under that plan are paying even when you are 75 years old.
  • No age rating, also called Community Rating. A few insurance companies will charge the same rate for everyone under the same plan regardless of their age.  Frequently called "association plans", this type of rating is not very common since it tends to attract older clients who would have to pay much more under either the Attained Age or Issue Age methods. 

Internet Resources With Respect To Medigap Plans

Medicare maintains two helpful websites with respect to Medigap policies:

  • offsite link provides a booklet: 2010 Choosing A Medigap Policy: A Guide To Health Insurance For People With Medicare. The booklet includes a description of  available Medigap policies, including a description of the benefits 
  • offsite link provides a lot of information on various choices for both Medicare and Medigap plans, their rules, and eligibility requirements.