What are Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Insurance Plans?
Medicare Supplemental plans (Medigap insurance) are additional supplement policies that cover things like deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance for beneficiaries. They work with Medicare Part A and Part B for people who qualify in the United States.
These plans are often termed “original Medicare”, and Part A covers hospitalization while Part B covers doctor’s services. Hopefully you use Part B more than A, however with the right Medigap plan you will have outstanding coverage and need not worry about large medical expenses.
Medigap plans are offered by private insurance companies which will pay their share of any Medicare-approved expenses that you incur. Each company has the option of offering up to ten different Medicare supplemental plans and they all have different benefits. Not to be confused with Medicare Advantage Plans, Medigap policies can be used nationwide with no network being involved as they are part of the Federal Medicare program. You must of course simply visit doctor’s that accept original Medicare.
The Difference in Plans
Out of the ten plans offered there are a few that are most popular. They include Plan F, Plan G, and Plan N. When choosing a Medigap policy you must take into consideration your current health condition, your budget, as well as how many out-of-pocket expenses you are comfortable with.
For those who wish to receive no medical bills for Medicare-approved expenses, Medicare Supplement plan F would be the ideal choice. It offers 100 percent coverage of any gaps that Medicare has. This means you would have no copayments, no coinsurance, and no deductibles to pay for. Just pay your monthly premium and your coverage is guaranteed renewable regardless of how many health claims you have.
Another very popular policy is Medigap Plan G. This plan puts the responsibility of the payment for the Part B deductible on the policy holder. This is a one-time annual deductible that either a Medigap plan or the beneficiary must pay before Medicare will begin paying the 80 percent of medical costs. That being said, after you pay the Part B deductible with a Plan G, the plan pays the difference and acts just like a Plan F for the rest of the calendar year. The biggest benefit to this is lower premiums for Plan G each month. As well Plan G has historically had lower rate increases than Plan F each year.
The Cost for Medicare Supplemental Plans
While several private insurance carriers offer supplemental Medicare plans, they all have the same benefits within each plan letter because they are what is called “standardized”. The government has set rules in place to make sure that every company has the same Plan F, the same Plan G, etc. This is great for the consumer as it really comes down to choosing the right plan then looking at cost.
Cost, however, is where most people make mistakes when purchasing a plan. Though the plans all have the same coverage in each letter, the premiums for each plan are entirely different between companies. This means a Plan F with once company may cost $150 in your area, yet another company with the exact same Plan F might charge $185. Choose wrong and you could end up paying hundreds of dollars extra per year for your coverage, with no extra benefit.
This makes shopping the rates from each company a critical element in your steps to shopping for a Medigap Plan. The easiest and fastest way to learn about the plans as well as get instant rates is to let us help. Working with independent agents like us allows you to see a variety of options, yet you never pay any more for our help.
10 Important Things You Must Know about Medigap Insurance
- To enroll in a Medigap plan you must have both Part A and Part B Medicare. You cannot have just Part A and get a supplement
- You can change your supplement plan any time throughout the year. The annual enrollment period for Part D drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans does not apply to supplements
- You cannot have a Medicare Advantage Plan and a Medigap policy at the same time
- Medicare Supplement plans cannot be cancelled by the insurance carrier if you have multiple health claims. As long as you continue paying your premiums your coverage is guaranteed renewable
- You have the option of purchasing a Medigap policy from any company that is available and licensed to sell one in your state
- Many supplement plans offer foreign travel benefits for coverage outside the United States (Check with us to see which ones)
- You may not have a Medigap policy if you have a Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA)
- There is a monthly premium for Medicare Part B, as well as a Premium for a Medicare Supplement plan
- Medicare Part D drug coverage is not included in a Medigap policy
- If your are on a Medicare Advantage Plan you may leave that plan during the annual enrollment period (AEP) and return to original Medicare and a Medigap plan. Medical underwriting may be required to qualify for the Medigap policy.
What Is Not Covered in a Medigap Policy
As stated above, Prescription drug coverage is not covered in a Medicare Supplement policy. If you are wanting this coverage you will need to enroll in a separate Part D drug plan. The easiest way to find which plan is best for you is to use Medicare’s drug plan finder tool.
As well, Medigap plans do not cover dental, hearing, or vision costs. There are several companies that offer this coverage however they are not part of Medicare. Check with us to see your options.
Despite these things not being coverage, Medicare Supplemental Plans are outstanding coverage that anyone on Medicare should certainly consider. With things like deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance being paid these plans can offer a great peace of mind and security when it comes to minimizing your health costs.
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