If you are enrolled in Medicare, you know that you should have some coverage beyond what Medicare provides. The gaps in Medicare are too great and the potential out-of-pocket costs for hospital stays and outpatient procedures can be difficult on a fixed income. You may be considering AARP supplemental insurance as a way to close the gaps or at least limit your out-of-pocket expenses, but it’s important to recognize that all AARP Medicare plans are not created equal.
Quite often people refer to any coverage beyond Medicare as supplemental Medicare insurance. Some AARP Medicare plans meet the definition of supplemental Medicare insurance and some do not. Because there are some big differences between types of plans, you should know what your goals are before you make a choice.
Medigap – the real Medicare supplement
AARP Medicare plans come in two varieties. Medigap, commonly referred to as a Medicare supplement policy and a Medicare Advantage plan, also known as Part C. These are two distinct types of Medicare plans that work in very different ways.
Technically speaking, only the AARP Medigap policy can be referred to as AARP supplemental insurance. An Advantage plan, like AARP Medicare Complete is not actually a supplemental policy.
A supplement by definition adds to something already in place. In the case of Medicare, a supplement fills in the gaps for Medicare covered services that would normally be your responsibility. Medicare supplements are standardized insurance policies that to one degree or another, depending on the particular plan, fill in the gaps. If you have AARP Medicare supplement plan F for instance, the plan will pay your hospital deductible and your 20% of outpatient procedures.
Supplemental Medicare insurance does not afford you any additional benefits beyond Medicare such as dental or vision. A Medicare supplement will also not include any drug coverage. You will be required to purchase a separate stand-alone Part D plan. An AARP Medicare supplement will require a monthly premium and will vary depending on the plan chosen and several other factors.
AARP Medicare Complete is a Medicare Advantage plan – not supplemental insurance
Medicare Complete is a widely popular Medicare Advantage plan that is available as an alternative to original Medicare. First, let’s dispel a myth. When you are enrolled in an Advantage plan you are still in Medicare, it has not been replaced. You are merely receiving your Medicare benefits from a private insurance company that is approved by and contracted with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to administer your Medicare benefits.
Even though an Advantage plan, like AARP Medicare Complete, is not actually supplemental Medicare insurance, it affords members a lot of benefits beyond original Medicare.
- Plans often have no monthly premium.
- Cost sharing is fixed in the form of co-pays, coinsurance and deductibles.
- Part D drug coverage is often included.
- Plans include additional benefits like dental, vision, hearing and sometimes gym memberships
Advantage plans do come with some limitations. Often they require that you receive services from a network of providers.
Many plans are considered to be a Medicare HMO or PPO . Plans are also annual plans and can change from year to year and in some cases can actually not renew for the following year. You have an Annual Enrollment Period to compare Medicare Advantage plans and choose the best plan for your circumstances.
When you are shopping for AARP supplemental insurance keep this information in mind in order to find a plan that meets your budget and needs.