Medicare Supplements: Just the facts
Medicare Supplement Plans Defined
If you are like most people you worked prior to turning 65 and it is very likely you had some type of Health Insurance through your employer’s benefits package. This plan probably came with a premium. In turn, you could go to the Physicians you chose and use Hospitals you liked. In other words, you paid to have the freedom to manage your health as you saw fit. More than likely that is the option you would still like today and the good news is there is a way for you to do that and it is very affordable. That is the freedom that Medicare Supplement Plans provide and the best part is you can eliminate all the co-payments for medical services at the same time.
Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) doesn’t cover everything. Some people choose to buy Medicare Supplement Insurance (also called Medigap) to help pay some, or all of the expenses that Medicare doesn’t pay.
Depending on the specific Medicare supplement insurance plan chosen, covered expenses may include:
- Part A deductible and co-insurance
- Part B annual deductible and co-insurance or co-pays
- Blood transfusions (first 3 pints each year)
- Cost of additional 365 hospital days after Part A benefits are used
- Foreign travel emergency medical expenses (up to plan limits)
Plans are Standardized
There are 10 different Medicare Supplement Insurance plans labeled A through N. Plans are standardized by the federal government so that every Plan A, for example, provides the same basic benefits as every other Plan A. This is true no matter what insurance company offers the plan. That cannot be stressed enough; standardized by the federal government and exact same benefits no matter what company you choose.
All 10 different Medicare supplement insurance plans may not be available in every state. Also, plans offered in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin are different from plans offered in other states. It’s important to learn what plans are offered where you live.
Plan Costs Vary
The cost of a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan may vary depending upon the plan you choose. As a general rule, the broader the coverage, the higher the premium you will pay. But comparing plans of the same type across insurers is simple. Basic benefits are the same for all plans of the same type, so cost is the only difference.
Private insurance companies sell Medicare Supplement Insurance plans, not the federal government. The plans have no network requirements and may be used for care anywhere within the United States with providers who accept Medicare patients.
Every Medicare Supplement Insurance plan must follow federal and state laws designed to protect you. Each plan must be clearly identified as “Medicare Supplement Insurance.”
The upside to Medicare Supplement Plans are the fact that you pay a fixed monthly premium, you can seek treatment from any provider who accepts Medicare, and you will not receive costly bills for co-payments like those you are responsible for on a Medicare Advantage Plan. If there is any way to plan a Medicare Supplement into your monthly budget it is the only choice to make when you turn 65.