Medicare Supplement plans, also called Medigap, are medical insurance plans that pay many of the health care expenses people over age 65 may still incur even with Medicare. They are offered through private companies, but for your protection they must conform to specific, standard regulations. Insurance companies don’t have to offer all the types of policies, which are generally identified by a letter except in Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Minnesota. These states have their own lingo. Standard Medigap and Medicare SELECT plans—special Medigap plans available in some states—must be clearly identified so that you can make an informed decision.
Expenses not covered by Medicare can be huge. Even covered expenses have cost-sharing portions that you have to pay: deductibles, coinsurance, copayments and excess charges–fees over the Medicare allowance. If you do not have current employer-sponsored insurance or retiree benefits, you should consider your needs and select a plan when you sign up for Medicare Part B. Delaying this coverage past the open enrollment period can increase your costs later if you have pre-existing conditions and may even make you ineligible for certain plans. Ten plans are available ranging from A to N. Plans E, H, I and J are no longer available to newcomers.
The most popular plans, C, F, G and N, all cover your costs for coinsurance, copayments, annual blood allowances, and the Part A deductible, covering hospitalization. They also cover expenses for medical emergencies while out of the country and the first year of hospitalization after Medicare runs out. Here are some of the differences between these four plans:
- Plan N has an exception to the 100% coinsurance coverage. You may have lower premiums in exchange for some $20 office-visit copays and emergency room copays up to $50 unless you are admitted into the hospital.
- Plans F and C also cover Plan B deductibles for medical care.
- Plans F and G have the additional feature of covering the excess charges if you choose a doctor that does not accept the Medicare assignment as payment in full.
- Plan F has a less expensive, high-deductible plan if you prefer to pay the first $2,110 of your share of 2013 Medicare-covered expenses.
It’s extremely wise to have an experienced advisor help you in your decision when choosing one of the many Medicare Supplement plans. Enter your zip code at the top of this page to get instant rates from multiple carriers.