How/When to Shop for Medicare Supplements

Do I buy when I'm still working, or wait? Get answers below.

You may have heard the term "Medigap." It's just another name for a Medicare supplement. Here are some things to consider as you seek the best Medicare supplement.
Supplement Plans
  • You must have Medicare Part A and Part B to buy a Medicare supplement. 
  • When you buy a Medicare supplement from BCBSND—or any insurance company—you pay a separate monthly premium for your supplement policy in addition to the monthly Part B premium that you pay to Medicare. 
  • Be sure to do a Medicare supplement insurance comparison.
  • A Medicare supplement policy covers one person. If you and your spouse both want a Medicare supplement, you should buy one for each. 
  • Once you're actively enrolled in a Medicare supplement, you will be able to continue to renew the policy even if you develop health problems.
Drug Coverage
  • Prescription drug coverage is separate.
  • If you want prescription drug coverage, you can join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D).
Switching Plans
  • If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch to a Medicare supplement, but make sure you can leave the Medicare Advantage Plan before your supplement policy begins. 
  • Pre-existing conditions can become an issue if you switch plans. If you enroll in your supplemental insurance plan at the time you first become eligible for Medicare, pre-existing conditions aren't an issue. If you wait or you don't like your insurance provider and decide to switch later, you may run into health questionnaires and potential waiting periods.
  • Protection From Medicare Scams

The Best Time to Buy a Medicare Supplement?
The short answer—when you're first eligible. There are exceptions, however. Get the details below.
Open Enrollment
There's a window of time when you're first eligible for Medicare called open enrollment. During that period, even if you have health problems, you can get a Medicare supplement insurance policy for the same price as someone who's healthy.
Your Open Enrollment is a Seven-Month Period That Includes: 
  • Three months before the month you turn 65
  • The month you turn 65
  • Three months after the month you turn 65
Your Medicare Coverage Will Begin:
  • On the first day of the month you turn 65, and 
  • You are enrolled in Medicare Part B
After Open Enrollment
It's important to purchase a supplement when you're first eligible. If you wait, your health history will determine:
  • Whether you are eligible for a supplemental policy
  • The cost for the policy
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, there's no guarantee you'll be eligible for a policy.
Still Working at 65?
If you want to wait to enroll in Medicare, visit with your human resources department or a BCBSND representative. He or she will explain the implications of your decision and help you manage a delayed enrollment in order to avoid penalties.

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