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"Medicare Supplemental Insurance,"  or as it’s commonly called, Medigap, is, at its simplest, a private health insurance plan that picks up where your Medicare coverage leaves off.

Specifically, Medicare is for those age 65 and older, as well as those under the age of 65 with certain disabilities. It covers hospital bills, doctor visits and prescriptions. However, not all Medicare options cover all three. Copayments, deductibles and other issues would need to be paid for by a secondary policy. Medigap plans could fill that void.

Medigap plans are not the same as HMO plans or related options. HMOs can help improve benefits covered within the Medicare plans. Medigap, on the other hand, bridges  the gaps in coverage that  Medicare doesn’t fill.

Medigap plans are subjected to certain federal laws, as well as individual state laws . For example, some states offer Medicare SELECT insurance plans that are considered under the umbrella of Medigap. The Medigap plan has several policy "letters" which categorize each offer. Costs differ by plan when it comes to the various private companies which offer such plans.

Some Medigap plans are no longer available to purchase. These include the E, H, I and J plans. If you already have such options you are still able to renew them. In addition, today’s Medigap plans D and G are different from those purchased before 2010.

As with any important decision, it may be best for you to compare all your options before making a final decision.

Care to discuss? Visit the Medicare discussion board.