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Why Do I Need to Go Through Underwriting to Get a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan?

Medical underwriting involves a review of your medical history. Some health insurers use underwriting to determine whether they will provide coverage to a prospective beneficiary, what premium to charge, and whether to impose a waiting period before coverage starts.

If you’re enrolled in Medicare, and you decide to add a Medicare Supplement (also known as Medigap or MedSup) insurance plan to your Original Medicare coverage, the private insurance company might require underwriting before selling you a Medigap policy.

You can avoid underwriting, and enroll in any Medigap plan that’s available where you live, if you sign up for the Medigap plan during your six-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This period begins on the first day of the month that you’re both 65 years old and enrolled in Medicare Part B. For example, if you turn 65 on July 14, and are enrolled in Medicare Part B, you have until December 31 to enroll in a Medigap plan. If you apply for a Medigap plan during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, your acceptance into the plan is guaranteed, and the plan can’t charge more if you have a health condition. As a prerequisite, you must be enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B.

If you apply for Medigap coverage after your open enrollment period has passed, you may have to go through medical underwriting. The insurer may review your medical history and refuse to sell you a policy, or sell you one at a higher cost, if you do not meet its underwriting requirements.

Sometimes you can join a Medigap plan after the Medigap Open Enrollment Period without undergoing a medical underwriting review. For example, if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and the plan leaves the Medicare program, you might have a “guaranteed-issue right” to a Medigap plan.

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