If you signed up for an Original Medicare plan, then you probably noticed that it doesn’t cover all your medical expenses, and even leaves you to pay some expenses on a few of the things it does cover. Those gaps in coverage are exactly what Medigaps in 2019 are designed to take care of for you.
Let’s look at what Medigap plans are, what medical care gaps they will fill in for you and why you may want to sign up for one.
What Are Medigap Plans?
Would you like more coverage for your medical expenses? Are these deductibles and copayments that you have trouble paying for yourself or that you think you may save money on if you had them covered by an insurance plan? Medigap plans are designed to deal with those frustrations by bundling a lot of medical expenses into one insurance plan and covering them for you. They do that by working with your Original Medicare plan directly. In fact, you cannot sign up for a Medigap plan (also called Medicare Supplement) without first having an Original Medicare plan. That’s how closely Medigap plans are tied to the basic Medicare coverage.
You can only sign up for one at a time, and they won’t be compatible with a lot of other insurance plans. For instance, they are not compatible with Medicare Advantage plans or many employer and union coverage plans. If there is any overlap whatsoever, then you will need to cancel one of your plans to make room for the other. Medicare simply does not allow there to be any overlap between its plans and some other plan that you are signed up for. You have to realize that not all medical insurance plans are compatible with one another and plan your coverage accordingly. If there is even one item of coverage in which they overlap, then you will need to get rid of one of your plans.
Medigap plans can cover a lot of different medical expenses for you. They are able to cover both common and uncommon expenses. Some other most useful coverage is for Medicare Part A and Part B copayments. These are payments you have to make (if you don’t have a covering supplemental plan) every time you go to your doctor or the hospital for treatment.
You can also be covered for the annual deductibles you have to pay on Medicare Part A and Part B. These are expenses that just about every Medicare subscriber has to pay, and they can be fully covered (or partially, in some cases) by your Medigap plan.
You might be annoyed to have to pay for coinsurance for skill nursing care or for hospice care, but those can be covered as well by your Medigap plan. You just have to choose the right plan to meet your needs and to cover the kinds of things that you need covered.
The blood you need that isn’t covered by Original Medicare can be taken care of as well. Most Medigap plans provide coverage for up to three pints of blood each year.
If you need to be transported to a medical facility outside the US for emergency care, then that may be covered by your Supplement Medigap plan as well. This coverage requires that you pay a deductible, though, and it will only cover you to 80% of the cost for each instance, with a maximum of $50,000 in coverage for this expense over your lifetime.
Medicare Part B excess charges can be covered as well by Supplement plans, though not many of them do bother to offer this coverage. That’s because it is uncommon, and most people never even need it.
These are the coverage items potentially included in a Supplement plan. We say “potentially” because only one of the plans actually includes all of these items we just listed. Most of them only cover a portion of them, and some cover a number of items but only cover them 50% or so. The higher coverage a plan is, the more it tends to cost. So, while you may want to go for a plan that offers more coverage, you do need to be aware of the high price it may bring with it.
The Best Medigap Plan
Once seniors start learning about Medigap plans, they often ask what the best one is. Ideally, the best one would be whatever offers the most coverage. In this case, that means the most expensive plan. Medigap Plan F covers more than any of the other Medigaps in 2019 will. This is the full coverage plan, but it is also the most expensive plan, and it can actually be so expensive that it is cheaper to go with a lower coverage plan and pay the difference from your own pockets.
For example, Plan G offers about the same amount of coverage as Plan F, but it is just missing the Medicare Part B deductible. That’s a $183 difference in coverage every year, but the price difference between the two plans can be quite a bit higher. You may premiums on the plans every month, so if the difference in premiums is $50 per month, then you will have made back the money in four months you would have spent on Plan F by switching to Plan G.
It’s differences in price and coverage like this that you have to pay attention to when you are comparing the plans. The way to find out which plan is best for you is to look first at what your needs are and then compare that to what these plans offer you. Not all of them are going to be good picks for you. Some other Medigap plans are going to have too much coverage and some may have too little coverage. They may all have too much coverage; in which case, you should look for another coverage plan or forgo Medigap coverage entirely. If they have too little coverage for you, then you need a more comprehensive medical insurance plan, such as Medicare Part C.
Why Go with Medigap Coverage?
Not everyone needs the kind of over that Medigap plans provide. Your needs may be different from someone else’s, and you may have different financial responsibilities that limit how much you can spend on a given plan. You have to look carefully at what you can afford and how much the plans could potentially save you. If you carefully look through your choices, you may find a plan that fits you well and saves you money. For many seniors, Medigap plans do save them money. They spend less on healthcare, and that savings pay off for them all year long, resulting in hundreds of dollars in savings many times.
Medigap coverage is ideal because it is so varied. There are ten plans you can pick from, and you should not have much trouble finding one that’s a close fit to what you need out of a coverage plan. You may not find the perfect plan that only covers what you feel is necessary to have covered, but you should be able to find one that’s a close approximation to what you really want. A little extra coverage doesn’t hurt, though, and it can come in handy for dealing with unexpected medical emergencies.
You have other options besides Medigap plans. You don’t have to choose one of these, but they do tend to be the most cost effective of the Medicare add-on plans. They work very well with Original Medicare, which most seniors have already, so it is not like it’s hard to get approved for Medigap plans either. Once you are approved for Original Medicare (and most people over 65 are), then you automatically qualify for Medigap. Your preexisting medical conditions don’t have to affect the price you pay for the plans either. You can get a great deal by signing up during Open Enrollment. That’s a period that comes once every year where you can sign up for whatever Medigap plan you like and be guaranteed approval for it. Your preexisting medical condition cannot exempt you from the plan, and they don’t even factor into how much you are charged for the plan.
If you believe that Medigap plans may be a good option for you, then take some time to look at the ten plans, or at least the ones that offer the kind of coverage you think you may need. You should know once you look at your finances and coverage need whether you require a high coverage or a low coverage plan. Then just pick out the few that fit those parameters and compare them closely to see which is the best fit for you.
Remember that your needs are going to change later, and you may need to update your plan. But for now, pick the Medigaps in 2019 that covers you where you need to be covered for this year and that you can afford to sign up for. Once you do that, you can join the many thousands of seniors who have already signed up for one of these and who are saving money on their healthcare.