What is a Medicare supplement?
A Medicare supplement is a type of health insurance sold by private insurers to cover the gaps in Medicare. This is what we refer to the plans as “Medigap Plans.”
Here’s an easy way to think of a Medicare supplement. Picture it as a card that sort of bolts onto the back of your Original Medicare. It serves to pay for the costs that normally Medicare would pass on to you. Medicare has gaps, like coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles that you must pay for when accessing medically-approved services.
If you have a supplement policy, Medicare will first pay its share of your medical expenses. Then your policy will step in and pay its share. This is usually the remainder of your bill. However, it depends on which policy you choose from the standard offered plans.
Not everything is covered by a Supplement plan though. Generally things like vision and dental care, hearing aids, long-term care and private nursing, are not covered by these plans. It is important to understand the benefits you require from a supplemental plan to ensure that you receive the assistance that you need.
8 things to know about Medigap policies:
- You must have Medicare Part A and Part B.
- If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can apply for a Medigap policy, but make sure you can leave the Medicare Advantage Plan before your Medigap policy begins.
- You pay the private insurance company a monthly premium for your Medigap policy in addition to the monthly Part B premium that you pay to Medicare.
- A Medigap policy only covers one person. If you and your spouse both want Medigap coverage, you'll each have to buy separate policies.
- You can buy a Medigap policy from any insurance company that's licensed in your state to sell one.
- Any standardized Medigap policy is guaranteed renewable even if you have health problems. This means the insurance company can't cancel your Medigap policy as long as you pay the premium.
- Some Medigap policies sold in the past cover prescription drugs, but Medigap policies sold after January 1, 2006 aren't allowed to include prescription drug coverage. If you want prescription drug coverage, you can join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D).
- It's illegal for anyone to sell you a Medigap policy if you have a Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plan.
Different Types of Medicare Supplement Plans
There are 10 different Medicare Supplement plans (Plan A, B, C… etc.) that each offer a different set of benefits. There are differences in benefits across the various plan letters, but within those letters the benefits have been standardized. This means that no matter what insurance provider you purchase a plan from, or where you live, a Plan A in one state, from one insurance company, will provide you with the same benefits as a Plan A from another provider or another state. This allows you to focus on which plan is right for you instead of worrying if one provider’s Plan A is better than another’s.
|Medigap Benefits||Medigap Plans|
|Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to an additional 365 days after Medicare benefits are used up||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Part B coninsurance or copayment||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||50%||75%||Yes||Yes***|
|Blood (first 3 pints)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||50%||75%||Yes||Yes|
|Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||50%||75%||Yes||Yes|
|Skilled nursing facility care coinsurance||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||50%||75%||Yes||Yes|
|Part A Deductible||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||50%||75%||50%||Yes|
|Part B Deductible||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|Part B excess charge||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Foreign travel exchange (up to plan limits)||No||No||80%||80%||80%||80%||No||No||80%||80%|
Most Popular Plans
Within the 10 different Supplement plans offered, Plans F, G, and N are the most popular plans amongst the carriers.
Medicare Plan F provides you with the most complete coverage available and one of the most widespread policies you can purchase.
Medicare Plan G covers everything that Plan F covers except the Medicare Part B deductible.
Medicare Plan N provides similar coverage to the previous two plans, but without the Part B deductible and the coverage of Part B excess charges.
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