As we get older, keeping healthy and paying our medical bills becomes increasingly important. When you reach age 65, you become eligible for Medicare. While Medicare covers many health costs, it does not cover everything.
Medicare supplement insurance plans, also called Medigap plans, are designed to help fill in those coverage gaps. Learning the details of these supplemental plans can ensure you get the right additional coverage for your needs.
What is Covered by Original Medicare?
Original Medicare consists of Part A and Part B. Medicare Part A covers costs associated with inpatient care in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. Medicare Part B covers outpatient services like doctor visits, tests, medical equipment, and more.
While Original Medicare covers a good portion of healthcare costs once you turn 65, it doesn’t cover everything. Some of the common gaps in Original Medicare include deductibles, copays, coinsurance, and coverage when traveling abroad.
This is where Medicare supplement plans come in – to supplement gaps in Original Medicare.
Understanding Medicare Supplements (Medigap Plans)
Private insurance companies offer Medigap plans to help cover expenses that Original Medicare does not. There are 10 standardized Medigap plans, labeled with letters A through N. Each plan offers different benefits and fills varying coverage gaps.
For instance, Medigap Plan A provides basic benefits like coverage for Medicare Part A and Part B coinsurance and copays. Plan F is a more robust option covering nearly all gaps in Original Medicare, including deductibles, copays, and coinsurance.
Every Medigap plan offers the same benefits, no matter which insurance company sells it. The difference between same-letter plans is the cost. It pays to shop around for the best rates.
Who Needs a Medicare Supplement Plan?
Deciding whether to get a Medicare Supplement plan depends on your budget, health, and coverage from other sources.
Medicare Supplements can provide peace of mind for those with limited savings who can’t afford high out-of-pocket medical costs. These plans also suit those who travel frequently, as they provide coverage outside the U.S. that Original Medicare does not.
Medigap policies may not be cost-effective for healthy individuals with few medical expenses. Or, if you have retiree health coverage from a former employer, you may not require additional supplemental benefits.
When to Enroll in Medicare Supplemental Coverage
The best time to enroll in Medicare Supplement coverage is during your open enrollment period. This enrollment window lasts six months, beginning when you are 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
During open enrollment, you cannot be denied a plan due to pre-existing conditions. And, insurance companies cannot charge you more based on your health status. Enrolling when you first qualify can help secure more affordable premiums.
You may be able to enroll in a Medicare Supplement policy outside of your open enrollment period. But keep in mind that insurance providers can charge you more based on your age and health at that time.
Choosing the Right Medicare Supplement Plans
When selecting a Medicare Supplement plan, consider your expected healthcare needs and premium costs. Plan F offers robust coverage but comes with higher premiums. Plan A has lower premiums but fewer benefits.
Also, make sure to shop multiple insurance providers for the same plan. For example, Plan G from one insurer may be less expensive than Plan G from another.
Medicare Supplement plans help fill coverage gaps left by Original Medicare. Learning how these plans work enables smart choices to get the right healthcare protection during retirement.
Secure Your Medicare Supplement Plan
Getting a Medicare supplement plan now means you won’t have to worry about out-of-pocket medical expenses or gaps in coverage down the line as those issues arise. Original Medicare alone won’t fully protect against high bills, so layering on supplemental coverage will strengthen your financial safety net. That way you’ll have peace of mind about healthcare costs whatever medical issues come your way going forward.