Why is it important to buy a Medigap policy when I am first eligible?
It’s very important to understand your Medigap open enrollment period. 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, if you apply during your Medigap open enrollment period, you can buy any Medigap policy the company sells, even if you have health problems, for the same price as people with good health. If you apply for Medigap coverage after your open enrollment period, there is 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 because of one of the limited situations.
It’s also important to understand that your Medigap rights may depend on when you choose to enroll in Medicare Part B. If you’re 65 or older, 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. However, 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. This is because employer plans often provide coverage similar to Medigap, so you don’t need a Medigap policy. When your employer coverage ends, you will get a chance to enroll in Part B without a late enrollment penalty which 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 the employer coverage, your Medigap open enrollment period would start, and unless you bought a Medigap policy before you needed it, you would miss your open enrollment period entirely.