The first thing to remember is that you must have Part A and Part B of Original Medicare before you can buy a supplement policy. Insurance companies cannot issue a Medicare supplement plan if you do not have both Part A and Part B of Original Medicare.
In June 2010, Medigap plans E, H, I, and J were taken off the market and are no longer for sale. If you already have one, you can keep it. You can choose from plans A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N in today’s Medigap plan marketplace.
Every carrier requires a monthly premium for their supplement plans – you will still need to pay your Part B premium as well.
A Medigap plan can only cover 1 person. If you and your spouse both want to secure a plan, you will need two separate policies – some companies offer a “household discount” when you both apply to the same carrier. There aren’t any joint life type of medigap plans available in the marketplace.
You can buy a Medigap plan from any carrier in your state that’s licensed to sell one (not every carrier sells in every state nor does every carrier offer every plan).
Any standardized Medigap plan is guaranteed renewable even if you have/develop health problems. This means your insurance company cannot cancel your policy as long as you’re paying your premiums.
You’re not restricted to networks under a Medigap plan – you can go to any hospital or doctor that accepts Medicare. An alternative to help lower premiums is the use of a Medigap SELECT plan. Under a SELECT plan, carriers may offer lower premiums in exchange for the requirement of using network hospitals and doctors (similar to an HMO type of network structure) .
If you decide to drop your plan, you need to contact your insurance company to cancel the policy – your agent can’t terminate the policy for you.
Some states have state-specific laws that may give you additional protections.
A key factor to understand when shopping for a Medigap plan is that each carrier charges different premiums for the same plan. Whether the carrier’s rates (premiums) are based on attained-age, issue-age, or community rating is a significant factor in evaluating plans.