Because Medicare won't cover all your
health-care costs during retirement, you may want to
consider purchasing a supplemental medical insurance policy
called Medigap. Medigap is specifically designed to fill
some of the gaps in your Medicare coverage.
When's the best time to buy a Medigap
The best time to buy a Medigap
policy is during your open enrollment period, since you
can't be turned down or charged more because you are in poor
health. If you are age 65 or older, your open enrollment
period starts when you first enroll in Medicare Part B. Or,
if you are not yet 65, your open enrollment period starts
when you turn 65, and then lasts for six months. A few
states also require that a limited open enrollment period be
offered to Medicare beneficiaries under age 65.
If you don't buy a Medigap policy during
your open enrollment period, you may not be able to buy the
policy you want later.
Note: If you are currently age 62 or
younger, you should be aware that your eligibility for
Medicare may be affected by the increase in the normal
retirement age for Social Security. Starting in 2000, the
age for collecting full Social Security benefits will
gradually increase from age 65 to age 67 over a 22-year
period. This means that the age at which you can begin
receiving Medicare benefits may be greater than 65 (if
current law still applies) because the date you become
eligible for Medicare is the date you reach normal
retirement age. However, neither the Social Security
Administration nor the Health Care Financing Administration
has yet published information on how the change in normal
retirement age will affect Medicare eligibility.
What does a Medigap policy cover?
Under federal law, only ten standardized plans can be
offered as Medigap plans. All ten must cover certain
services, no matter in which state you live. Medigap
policies pay most, if not all, Medicare coinsurance amounts.
Some also provide coverage for deductibles and services that
are not covered by Medicare such as prescription drugs and
Each Medigap policy is labeled with the
letter "A" through "J". You can buy the
Medigap plan that best suits your needs. Plan "A"
is the basic benefit plan, while Plan "J" offers
the most coverage. However, it is important to note that not
all ten plans are available in every state.
What is Medicare SELECT?
Medicare SELECT is another Medicare supplemental health
insurance product. It's almost identical to standard Medigap
insurance. When you buy a Medicare SELECT policy, you are
buying a standard Medigap plan. The only difference between
a Medicare SELECT plan and a Medigap plan is that Medicare
SELECT is a managed care plan. In order to be eligible for
full benefits, you must use specific hospitals, and
sometimes specific doctors. That's why Medicare SELECT
premiums are usually lower than premiums for Medigap
policies that do not require the use of managed care.
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Please Note: The
information contained in this Web site is provided solely as a source of
general information and resource. It is a not a statement of
contract and coverage may not apply in all areas or circumstances. For a complete
description of coverages, always read the insurance policy, including