¹ Based on more than 111,000 eHealth Medicare visitors who used the company's Medicare prescription drug coverage comparison tool during Medicare's 2020 Annual Election Period (October 15 – December 7, 2019).
² Between Jan. 1, 2018 and Dec. 31, 2019, new customers who provided their previous Medicare Supplement insurance premiums saved an average of $581 per year when switching. This statistic does not consider outliers as defined by Tukey fences. Potential savings may vary.
If you qualify for Medicare coverage in the United States, you may find yourself wishing that you had better insurance coverage for certain costs. Although Original Medicare plans provide many forms of medical care for people 65 and older and some younger individuals with certain medical conditions, not everything is included in Medicare Parts A, B, and D. In specific cases where more coverage is needed, some people turn to Medicare Supplement plans.
If you’re a Medicare policyholder but have experienced a shortage of coverage when it comes to expenses like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles, Medicare Supplements could provide the perfect solution. There are, however, some important things to know about selecting and leveraging these plans to their full capacity.
In this complete guide to Medicare Supplement Insurance plans, you’ll gain a more detailed understanding of the following key points:
Medicare Supplement Insurance is also referred to as Medigap, and it covers some of the costs that traditional Medicare plans do not cover under Parts A, B, and D. Medicare Supplement plans are designed to fill in missing elements and to provide more complete coverage in order to decrease out-of-pocket expenses.
To decide whether a Medicare Supplement plan is best for your unique situation, be sure to contact your plan administrator to discuss coverage options, eligibility, and personal benefits.
Medicare Supplement plans are available in 10 different plan types. Each one is assigned a letter, which includes plans A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N. Although federal laws regulate each of the unique plan options, private insurers decide which of these supplemental plans they want to sell, administer, and support.
Supplemental plan options do vary by state, but the entire program is governed by federal rules and requirements. This helps ensure a standard of care and coverage that makes Medicare Supplement a beneficial option for policyholders who need more financial support.
Medicare Supplement plans work by providing expanded financial coverage in three main ways. These options include extra coverage for:
These categories are often those that cost people the most money out-of-pocket, even when enrolled in a traditional Medicare plan. To secure a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan, you’ll need to work with a private health insurance company to make your selection. Once you choose the plan that’s best for your health needs, you can expect to pay a monthly premium amount to the insurance provider.
If you utilize a Medigap or supplemental plan, it’s important to note that your Original Medicare plan will always pay its share of the costs first. Only then does the supplemental plan kick in and provide additional coverage. Additionally, new regulations may dictate how much of a Medicare deductible the supplemental plan can cover, which it’s why it’s important to stay in communication with your insurance provider or network.
If you’re interested in pursuing a Medicare Supplement plan, you’ll need to be sure that you first have and are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. This is a preliminary step whether you want to enroll in a supplemental plan or something different, such as a private Medicare Advantage plan.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to do some basic research so that you understand the distinctions of Medicare supplements. For instance, most people discover that Medicare Supplement plans:
Guides such as this one are intended to provide basic information to help you understand the characteristics of Medicare options. They are not, however, professional medical advice about treating or insuring any current health condition. Before signing up, you should always seek the advice of a licensed care provider and connect with a plan administrator.
When you first compare Medicare Supplement options, you might feel overwhelmed at the available choices. Fortunately, there are a few good ways to narrow down your options so that you can see what works best for you. Use the following list of questions to determine what you should look for in supplemental coverage.
These questions are just a start, but going through the list can help you distinguish the most suitable plan types. By answering honestly, you’ll also avoid overpaying for supplemental coverage that you don’t need or want.
As you compare the options for Medicare Supplement plans, monthly premium amounts could be a primary motivator for choosing one plan over another. When it comes to supplemental insurance, there are a few ways that Medicare providers set premiums. These include:
When it comes to Medicare timelines, your open enrollment period is considered to fall within the first 6 months after you turn 65. You must be enrolled in Medicare Part B in order to leverage open enrollment for supplemental plans.
While you may have a lot to do during this time period, it’s best to sign up for a Medicare Supplement as soon as possible within this window. This is because you cannot be denied coverage, and you’ll have the most options available. Additionally, insurance providers aren’t allowed to charge your higher fees for pre-existing conditions or subject you to underwriting requirements.
The open enrollment period may also offer better prices when shopping for new plans. To take advantage of these premiums and to avoid late enrollment fees or other unexpected charges, have your supplemental choice ready. Preparing in advance can set you up with the best plan possible.
Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, plans offer an extensive range of benefits for plan participants. After all, the purpose of a supplement is to provide coverage that fills in the gaps where other plans fall short. Some of the most notable benefits to Medicare Supplement plans include:
Whether or not you choose to use a Medicare Supplement plan, having a strong understanding of the benefits can better equip you if the need for additional coverage ever arises.
H2> Disadvantages to Medicare Supplement Plans
While there are several important benefits to choosing the right Medicare Supplement Insurance plan, there are also a few disadvantages to be aware of. These may not apply to your unique situation based on your age, level of need, or state of residence. However, it’s always best to be prepared rather than surprised by health insurance scenarios.
Some of the disadvantages of Medicare Supplement plans include:
It’s our hope that this guide has given you a foundational understanding of Medicare Supplement Insurance plans. Choosing the right Medicare option is an incredibly important part of maintaining health and wellness as you age, and support is often needed to make the best decision possible for yourself or a family member.
At Insurance Ranked, our aim is to provide a helpful library of resources and guides that combine helpful sources of information together in easy-to-use formats. We encourage you to explore, share, and leverage these resources throughout your journey to finding the best Medicare option for your unique situation.
This guide has covered the basics of Medicare supplement plans for seniors and other eligible policyholders. Many plan members have similar questions when getting started with Medicare supplement insurance. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers.
It’s true that the marketplace sometimes feels saturated with Medicare Supplement options, but the good news is that every Medigap policy is standardized. This means that each plan must follow federal guidelines to provide a certain amount and a standard of coverage. The best way to take a deep dive into Medigap plan characteristics is to use the planning tool on Medicare.gov.
Unfortunately, Medicare supplements are not designed to provide coverage for dental, vision, and hearing costs. These features are common in Medicare Advantage plans, but they are not typical in supplemental coverage or Medigap.
All Medicare supplement plans are controlled and regulated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services (CMS). This ensures a standard level of care and coverage. There are currently 10 different Medicare supplement plans (labeled as A through N) that are sold and administered by private companies, but the standards that govern them come from CMS.
The 10 available and standard Medigap plans are assigned letters. There is nothing particularly special about these labels, other than that they define different plans with different types of coverage. Plan types with the same letter mean that those plans offer identical coverage, which can be helpful when comparing privatized options.
From time to time, you may wish to compare new supplemental plans or to switch private insurance providers. You can decide to do this but should be careful about the timing of your switch. Check with your individual provider to see if there are any late enrollment charges, particularly when it comes to prescription drug coverage.