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Buy a policy when you’re first eligible

The best time to buy a Medigap policy is during your 6-month Medigap open enrollment period. Medigap gives you a guaranteed issuance During that time you can buy any Medigap policy sold in your state, even if you have health problems. This period automatically starts the month you’re 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). After this enrollment period, you may not be able to buy a Medigap policy. If you’re able to buy one, it may cost more.
Guaranteed issuance means that pre-existing conditions can not preclude you from Medigap nor can the provider charge more if you have a preexisting condition.

During your open enrollment

Medigap insurance companies are generally allowed to use medical underwriting to decide whether to accept your application and how much to charge you for the Medigap policy. However, even if you have health problems, during your Medigap open enrollment period you can buy any policy the company sells for the same price as people with good health.
Your Medigap open enrollment period begins when you enroll in Part B and can’t be changed or repeated. In most cases, it makes sense to enroll in Part B when you’re first eligible because you might otherwise have to pay a Part B late enrollment penalty.

The best time to buy a Medigap policy is the 6-month period that starts the first day of the month you’re 65 or older and enrolled in Part B. For example, if you turn 65 and are enrolled in Part B in July, the best time for you to buy a Medigap policy is from July to December.
After this enrollment period, your option to buy a Medigap policy may be limited and it may cost more.
Some states have additional open enrollment periods.

Federal law doesn’t require insurance companies to sell Medigap policies to people under 65. If you’re under 65, you might not be able to buy the Medigap policy you want, or any Medigap policy, until you turn 65.
However, some states require Medigap insurance companies to sell you a Medigap policy, even if you’re under 65. If you’re able to buy one, it may cost you more.
If you have group health coverage through an employer or union because either you or your spouse is currently working, you may want to wait to enroll in Part B. Employer plans often provide coverage similar to Medigap, so you don’t need a Medigap policy.

When your employer coverage ends, you’ll get a chance to enroll in Part B without a late enrollment penalty. That means your Medigap open enrollment period will start when you’re ready to take advantage of it. If you enrolled in Part B while you still had employer coverage, your Medigap open enrollment period would start. Unless you bought a Medigap policy before you needed it, you’d miss your open enrollment period entirely.

Outside your open enrollment

If you apply for Medigap coverage after your open enrollment period, there’s no guarantee that an insurance company will sell you a Medigap policy if you don’t meet the medical underwriting requirements, unless you’re eligible due to one of the situations below.
In some states, you may be able to buy another type of Medigap policy called Medicare SELECT. If you buy a Medicare SELECT policy, you have the right to change your mind within 12 months and switch to a standard Medigap policy.

Since costs vary between companies, contact more than one insurance company that sells Medigap policies in your state.
Before you contact any insurance companies, figure out if one of these applies:
• You’re in your Medigap open enrollment period.
• You have a guaranteed issue right.

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