Medigap deadline is Friday

The deadline for seniors whose health maintenance organization left the Medicare program in1999 to purchase a Medigap plan is Friday.

For seniors and disabled individuals in Nevada whose HMO terminated its Medicare contract on Dec. 31, the last day they can purchase a Medigap supplemental insurance policy with no strings attached is March 3.

After that time, the law does not require insurers to issue a policy or limit coverage under the policy.

"We want to make sure that Medicare beneficiaries and their families are aware of this important deadline," said Health Care Financing Administration Administrator Nancy-Ann DeParle. "Since the law guarantees beneficiaries the right to buy certain Medigap insurance policies we want to make sure that they take care of those protections."

Through Friday, beneficiaries have "guaranteed issue rights," which means that an insurer must sell a beneficiary the policy even if they are unhealthy and cannot pass the medical underwriting standards.

In addition, the insurer cannot impose exclusions or waiting periods for preexisting conditions. This guaranteed issue period is especially important to the beneficiaries living in Northern and outlying areas of Nevada where no other managed care options exist at this time.

Effective Jan. 1, these individuals returned to original Medicare, a fee-for-service program with significant out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-insurance payments.


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