If you have decided that purchasing a Medicare supplement is the way to go, you may be wondering which supplemental plan is best. This question is easily answered if you are not severely limited on your health care budget.
As of December 2011 4.6 million people with Medicare had purchased Medicare supplement Plan F. That’s up 9.6% over the previous year.
Medicare supplement policies, or Medigap as it is also known, are available as standardized plans. Each standardized Medicare supplement will fill the gaps left by Medicare. Which plan you choose will determine to what extent the gaps are filled. Medicare supplement plan F is the most comprehensive plan and will leave you with the least amount out-of-pocket.
Medicare Supplement Plan F Benefits
- Part A hospital deductible
- Part A hospital coinsurance
- Skilled nursing facility coinsurance
- Hospice co-payment/coinsurance
Medicare Part B:
- Part B outpatient deductible
- Part B outpatient coinsurance
- Part B excess charges – 100%
- Foreign travel emergency – 80% to lifetime max of $50,000 after $250 calendar year deductible
In addition to these benefits, some providers will offer additional value added benefits. For example, AARP Medicare supplement Plan F will also include:
- Vision discounts
- Nurse health line
- Pharmacy services discounts
Even though Plan F is the most comprehensive, it still has its limits. Unless a company is offering some ancillary benefits and discounts, don’t expect Plan f to cover non-Medicare expenses. The limits to Plan F are inherent in what a supplement is intended to do.
The best time to by a Medicare supplement
The best time to by a Medigap policy is during open enrollment when you first become eligible for Medicare enrollment. During this time you cannot be denied coverage for any pre-existing health conditions.
If you have a special circumstance, such as losing employer group insurance, leaving a Medicare Advantage plan within the first year or moving out of an Advantage plan’s service area, you will have a guaranteed issue period where you are able to purchase any policy that a company sells.
It’s also important to note that you will need to choose a Medicare Part D plan to accompany your Medicare supplement. Unlike an Advantage plan, such as AARP Medicare Complete, you will not have drug coverage included in your supplemental insurance plan.
If you do not enroll in a Part D drug plan when first eligible, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty should you decide to enroll at a later date. Also, keep in mind that unlike a Medicare supplement policy, you will be subject to enrollment periods with Medicare Part D insurance.
Comparing Medicare supplement Plan F policies
Since Medicare supplement plans are standardized, you will find that each companies plans will have identical benefits. Medicare supplement Plan F includes the same benefits no matter which company you choose.
This makes shopping for a plan simple. Since Medigap insurance is basically a commodity, it is easiest to compare Medicare supplement plans
online. Most people would find it time consuming and somewhat redundant to meet with several agents when the only difference in plans will be the cost and the perceived level of customer service.
Monthly premiums can vary considerably between companies for Medigap Plan F, so do your homework and look at several companies before you make your choice.