Medicare Supplement Plans

Medicare Supplement Plans

If you are new to Medicare, you may be wondering if you should purchase a Medicare Supplement, or “Medigap,” policy to help cover some of the costs not included in your Part A and Part B benefits. If you are planning to get your benefits through Original Medicare, you may want to consider your medical and financial needs before making a decision.

Medigap policies are sold by private insurance companies to help supplement the coverage offered by Original Medicare, which is the coverage managed by the federal government. Original Medicare helps cover the cost of many medical services, but some beneficiaries are rightfully concerned about the out-of-pocket expenses they may face. A Medigap policy can help cover some of the expenses that Original Medicare does not, including, but not limited to, coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles. Some policies provide coverage for emergency healthcare coverage when you travel outside of the United States.

When you are initially eligible for Medicare, you have a 6-month Medigap open enrollment period when you have a guaranteed issue right to buy any Medigap policy sold in your state, even if you have pre-existing health conditions. This period automatically starts the month you turn 65 and are enrolled in Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). After this enrollment period ends, you may be subject to medical underwriting and can be turned down for policies or charged higher amounts due to health issues.

Insurance companies can only sell standardized Medigap policies, which must follow federal and state laws, but the companies may charge different premiums for the same exact policy. As you review and compare the Medigap policies available in your area, make sure you are comparing the same type of policy. For instance, compare Medicare Supplement Plan A from one company with Medicare Supplement Plan A from another company.

You would pay a monthly premium for a Medigap policy in addition to the Part B premium you pay to Medicare. As long as you pay your premium, your Medigap policy is guaranteed renewable. This means it is automatically renewed each year, and your coverage will continue year after year as long as you pay your premium.

It is important to note that there are certain services and supplies that Medigap policies do not cover, such as long-term care, vision or dental care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, private-duty nursing, or prescription drug coverage. If those benefits are important to you, you may want to consider your Medicare coverage options, including stand-alone Prescription Drug Plans or a switch to a Medicare Advantage plan.