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A "Medicare supplement" or "Medigap" policy is health insurance
from a private insurance company specifically
designed to fill the “gaps”
in Medicare coverage. Medigap
policies help pay some of the health care costs
that Medicare does not cover.
If you are enrolled in a Medicare plan and
have a Medigap policy, then Medicare and your
Medigap policy will each pay its share of
covered health care costs.
Generally, when you buy a Medigap policy you must have Medicare Part A and Part B. You will have to pay the monthly Medicare Part B premium ($96.40 in 2011 for most beneficiaries). In addition, you will have to pay a premium to the Medigap insurance company. As long as you pay your premium, your Medigap policy is guaranteed renewable. This means it is automatically renewed each year. Your coverage will continue year after year as long as you pay your premium. In some states, insurance companies may refuse to renew a Medigap policy bought before 1992.
Medigap policies are "standardized" by federal and state laws that are designed to protect consumers. The standardized Medigap policies that insurance companies offer must provide the same benefits. The front of a Medigap policy must clearly identify it as “Medicare Supplement Insurance” and identify the standard policy type. Generally, the only difference between Medigap policies sold by different insurance companies is the cost. It is important to compare Medigap policies, because costs can vary.
If you are married then you and your spouse must buy separate Medigap policies. Your Medigap policy won't cover any health care costs for your spouse.
Some Medigap policies also cover other extra benefits that are not covered by Medicare.
Because of the rising cost of Medigap coverage, some people look for alternate ways to reduce some of the risk with insurance other than traditional Medigap policies. Supplemental accident coverage, cancer or hospital supplement policies may be used for this purpose.
The following Medicare supplement policies are offered though one or more insurance exchange:
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