How to Fill Gaps in Your Medicare Coverage

For those on Medicare, there are a wide variety of healthcare services that are covered. However, the Medicare program does not cover all medical and healthcare expenses, and there are many copayments and deductibles. Medicare supplemental insurance, also known as Medigap, is a type of insurance that is designed to fill in some of the gaps in coverage that are not paid for by Medicare. These plans are offered by private insurance companies.

Although Medicare supplemental policies are available to most people over age 65 on an ongoing basis, the best time to apply for such coverage is during a participant’s “open enrollment” period. The open enrollment period for Medicare supplemental insurance begins six months after an applicant turns 65 and is enrolled in Medicare Part B. Therefore, when one applies for Medicare Part B, his or her open enrollment period for Medicare supplemental insurance begins automatically. And once this period begins, it cannot be changed.

During an applicant’s open enrollment period, insurance companies that offer Medigap insurance are not allowed to deny coverage to a participant in a Medicare supplemental plan. The company is also not allowed to charge an additional premium for a preexisting condition if the individual had prior “creditable insurance coverage” for at least six months. In addition, the company cannot require an applicant to wait for his or her coverage to begin. Should an individual decide to wait until his or her open enrollment period has expired before applying for Medicare supplemental insurance, some insurance companies may require medical underwriting to take place prior to issuing coverage.