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    Health Care Reform:

    Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

    Medicare: What Are Medigap Plans?

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    However, you may have to wait up to six months for coverage if you have a pre-existing health condition. The insurer through which you buy your Medigap policy can refuse to cover out-of-pocket costs during that period. After six months, the Medigap policy must cover the pre-existing condition. The exception to this rule is if you buy a Medigap policy during your open enrollment period and have had continuous "creditable coverage," or a health insurance policy for the six months before buying a policy. The Medigap insurance company cannot withhold coverage for a pre-existing condition in that case.

    Insurance companies set their own prices and rules about eligibility, so it's important to shop around.

    Most Medigap plans help pay for many of your Medicare co-payments, co-insurance for hospital stays, and some other services.

    Less expensive plans have fewer benefits and higher out-of-pocket costs. More expensive plans include extra benefits, like coverage for routine checkups, some Medicare deductibles, at-home recovery, and more. You have to decide what sort of plan makes the most sense for you. If you drop your Medigap policy, there is no guarantee you will be able to get it back.

    Some Medigap plans used to cover prescription drugs. Since the introduction of the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D), you can no longer sign up for these plans. If you already have a Medigap plan that covers prescriptions, however, you can keep it.

    For more information about Medigap plans, see the Medicare web site at www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE.

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