What Is Medicare Supplemental Insurance?
Medicare Supplemental Insurance is insurance coverage designed to cover gaps in Medicare, including deductibles, coinsurance, co-pays, and excess charges. This coverage is also often called Medigap Insurance, because it covers the gaps in Medicare.
In order to understand how Medicare supplements work, it’s best to first understand the basics of Medicare coverage.
What Does Medicare Cover?
Medicare offers several benefits related to medical and prescription drug coverage and on its own, it can provide pretty decent coverage. However, it can leave you exposed to potentially significant co-pays and coinsurance with no limits on financial exposure.
Medicare breaks it’s coverage down into four parts categorized by letter designations.
Medicare Part A is your hospital insurance and helps cover medical expenses if you are in the hospital. Your exposure with Medicare part A includes deductibles, coinsurance, and co-pay expenses that can become pretty significant if you do not have Medicare supplemental insurance coverage. You will automatically be entitled to, and enrolled in, Part A at age 65 if you worked at least 40 quarters in the United States. You can also qualify for coverage through a spouse that worked at least 40 quarters.
Medicare Part B is coverage for outpatient medical services. You are responsible for deductibles, coinsurance, co-pays, and excess charges if you don’t have a Medicare supplement. This coverage is elective but most Medicare recipients take it. You will pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part B that will be based on your income level. If you make more per year you’ll pay more for Part B. The current minimum premium is $134 per month.
Medicare Part C is a privatized plan that is also known as Medicare Advantage. You can choose to take this plan offered by private health insurers instead of regular Medicare. Although there are some benefits to this plan in that is required to cover you as good or better than Medicare, you will typically find that there are far fewer doctors and hospitals that accept this type of policy and that there isn’t a reliable way to supplement your financial exposures in this coverage. You will still have to make your Medicare Part B premiums to own this type of policy and may pay anywhere from $0 additional to over $100/month for this type of plan. If you have this type of plan you will not be able to buy a Medigap (Medicare Supplemental Insurance) plan as Medicare supplements are not intended to cover gaps in Medicare Advantage.
How to Choose a Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan.
One of the great things about shopping for Medicare supplemental insurance is that these plans are mandated to have standardized coverage between companies. Some companies can also offer additional benefits outside of the standard benefits included in these plans, but keep in mind that such services are not a part of the policy, may be discontinued at any time and, as appropriate, may be subject to geographic availability.
Medicare supplemental insurance plans have letter designations indicating the benefits included with each. The most popular plan is currently Medicare Supplement Plan F because it covers all of the gaps in Medicare. Over half of our clients who own a Medicare Supplemental plan own Plan F.
Considering Medicare Supplement Insurance Costs
So, understanding what you’ve read to this point, you should feel comfortable that if you want a Plan F, for example, you can just get rates from different insurance companies and go with the least expensive Plan F. It’s really that simple. As stated above, you don’t have to worry about whether one company has better benefits or another company has a better doctor’s networks or is better at paying claims. Standardized Medicare Supplement Plan F will work the same regardless of which company you purchase the plan from.