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Medicare: Medigap Policies

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"Medigap" is the name given to health insurance policies issued by insurance companies to supplement the benefits of Original Fee-For-Service Medicare. These policies are also sometimes called "Medicare Supplement Policies."

Medigap coverage is designed to pay portions of medical bills that Medicare does not pay -- including deductibles, coinsurance, and charges above Medicare covered amounts.

Medigap policies only supplement Original Fee-for-Service Medicare. Medigap policies will not pay for services not covered under Original Medicare. (Medicare pays first. Medigap pays part or all of any remaining money due.)

Medicare Advantage policies, such as Medicare Advantage: HMOs are not supplemented by Medigap coverage.

Medigap policies are difficult for anyone with a life-changing condition to obtain except during periods of "Open Enrollment. " Medigap policies are medically underwritten except during such periods.

When choosing a Medigap policy:

  • Determine what medical expenditures you are likely to have which are not covered by Original Medicare. For example, deductibles and co-insurance.
  • Keep in mind that Medigap policies usually only cover services which are approved by Medicare.
  • If you travel outside the United States, look for a Medigap policy that provides emergency care outside the U.S.  (Medicare doesn't cover outside the United States). 
  • Medigap policies are standardized across the country by alphabet. Each letter covers a specific set of benefits.
  • Buy smart. Buy early.

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