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Medicare Supplement Insurance, also known as Medigap, is private health insurance that helps pay some of the costs not covered by Original Medicare, which is the federal health insurance program for people aged 65 and older. Original Medicare has two parts:

  • Part A: Covers hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and home health care.

  • Part B: Covers physician services, outpatient care, medical equipment, and supplies.

Medicare Supplement Insurance plans can help pay for:

  • Part A coinsurance and hospital costs after the deductible is met

  • Part B coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles

  • Blood and some other medical supplies

  • Skilled nursing facility care beyond 100 days

  • Home health care beyond 100 visits

  • Hospice care

Medigap plans are standardized, so you can compare benefits and prices easily. There are 10 standard Medigap plans (A through N), each with different levels of coverage. Plans A through F cover all of the basic costs not covered by Original Medicare. Plan G and Plan K also cover Part B excess charges, which are charges some providers charge above Medicare's approved amount. Plan L and Plan N cover Part B excess charges and include the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. Plan M covers Part B excess charges and excludes the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit.

You can buy a Medigap policy if you are enrolled in Original Medicare Part A and Part B. You can purchase a Medigap policy any time after you turn 65, but the best time to buy is during your Medigap open enrollment period. This period begins three months before you turn 65, continues through the month you turn 65, and ends three months after the month you turn 65. During this period, you can purchase a Medigap policy regardless of your health or whether you have any pre-existing conditions. Once your Medigap open enrollment period ends, you may be able to purchase a Medigap policy, but you may be subject to medical underwriting, which means that your health will be considered when determining whether you are eligible and what premiums you will pay.

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