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Ask Ms. Medicare

Getting Medigap Insurance Under Age 65

Q. I’m younger than 65 and on Medicare because of disability. Can I buy medigap supplemental insurance to help with the costs?

A. Maybe, but it depends on where you live. People age 65 or older have a guaranteed right to buy a medigap policy (meaning they can’t be turned down, regardless of disability or health status) within six months of enrolling in Medicare Part B, as explained here. There is no similar federal guarantee for Medicare beneficiaries under 65. However, 27 states currently require insurers to sell at least some types of medigap policies to beneficiaries under 65. They are the following:

California*

 Maryland

 North Carolina

Colorado

 Massachusetts*

 Oklahoma

Connecticut

 Michigan

 Oregon

Delaware**

 Hawaii

 Minnesota

Pennsylvania

 Illinois

 Mississippi

South Dakota

 Kansas

 Missouri

Texas

 Kentucky

 New Hampshire

Vermont*

 Louisiana

 New Jersey

Wisconsin

 Maine

 New York

* Medigap policies are not available in California, Massachusetts and Vermont for people under 65 who have end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

** Medigap policies for people under 65 in Delaware are available only to those with ESRD.

If you live in a state not shown here, you may still find an insurance company willing to sell you a policy, though it may cost you more than someone 65 or older, and it may deny coverage for preexisting conditions. For more information on insurance (or other benefits) that may be available to you, contact your state health insurance assistance program (SHIP) for free help from a trained counselor. For the phone number of your SHIP, visit shiptalk.org.

When you reach 65, you can then take advantage of your federally guaranteed right to buy a medigap policy, even if you’ve been enrolled in Medicare Part B for years. You get a six-month enrollment period to buy medigap insurance. During that time, insurers can’t refuse to sell you any policy available in your state or charge you a higher premium than other people your age. So, even if you were able to buy medigap insurance before you turned 65, you may now get a greater choice of policies and a lower premium.

Patricia Barry is a senior editor at the AARP Bulletin.

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