Medicare Supplement Plans
Medicare is a national health insurance program in the United States which pays for a number of health care services. However, there are some healthcare concerns which are not covered by the original Medicare program. These are taken care of by Medigap. Medigap is a policy which is sold by private insurance companies and it covers those services which are not covered by Medicare such as copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. One example of these services are medical insurance during travel outside US. You can buy a Medigap policy if you already have Medicare and you can derive benefits from both these policies. It must be noted that premiums are not paid by Medicare for a Medigap policy.
A Medigap policy is a ‘Medicare Supplement Insurance’, and it follows all standard Federal and state laws. Insurance companies which sell Medigap offer a standardized policy which is the same across most states. You can get the basic benefits with all plans, but some plans offer other additional benefits, so you can choose the plan which will benefit you the most. Note: There are different benefits offered in the standard Medigap policy in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The different types of Medigap plans offered:
- Two new Medigap plans have been introduced – Plans M and N.
- Plans E, H, I and J cannot be bought any longer. If you have already bought any of these plans before June 1, 2010, you will keep getting the benefits of the plan.
- You can contact the company for more information about your plan.
Different insurance companies may require different premiums for the same Medigap plans
When you are researching Medicare supplement policies, make sure you are comparing the same plans. (For example, Plan A from one company with Plan A from another company)
- It is important that you have Medicare Part A and B.
- You must pay a separate premium every month for your Medigap policy apart from the premium you pay per month for your Part B
- A Medigap policy doesn’t cover your spouse’s medical needs. A separate plan must be bought for your partner.
- You must research and compare different Medigap policies before buying, as costs differ across plans and premiums might increase as you grow older. Some states have a limit to the cost that can be covered with Medigap.
- You will get the maximum benefit of your Medigap policy if you buy it within six months of turning 65 and if you already have Part B. (This might vary across states.)
- If you do not buy a Medigap policy during this period, the cost of the premium might increase and your chances of getting a plan might become limited.
- If you have bought a Medigap policy, you might want to drop it and switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan, for example, HMO or PPO. In such cases, you will have to forgo your Medigap policy. Your Medigap policy can’t be used to pay copayments, deductibles or services for your Medicare Advantage Plan. Contact your insurance agent for more information.
- If you have bought a Medicare Advantage Plan, and if someone tries to sell you a Medigap policy, contact your State Insurance Department, as this is punishable under the law. This is only possible if you would like to switch back to the original Medicare plan.
How do I get started? If you are looking to buy a Medicare plan, you can use a number of resources to help you make the best decision: You can speak to an expert on Medicare plans and services using our helpline which is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.