Original Medicare has some substantial gaps in coverage. You are exposed to co-payments, coinsurance and deductibles. A Medicare supplement, also known as a Medigap policy, helps fill those gaps. But how do you find the best Medicare supplement insurance to meet your needs and your budget?
The key is to have some knowledge about the types of plans available. Many people actually enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan thinking that they bought a Medicare supplement. Once you know the difference you can get down to the business of comparing the benefits of each Medicare supplement.
Finding the best Medicare supplemental insurance is easy once you know what is available and how to compare supplemental plans.
Medicare supplemental insurance – what it is and what it is not
The first thing you must recognize is that a Medicare supplement and a Medicare Advantage plan are not the same thing. The steps to finding the best Medicare Advantage plan are different than the steps to finding the best Medicare supplement insurance plan.
A Medigap policy (Medicare supplement) is private health insurance that is available as one of 10 standardized plans. Medicare supplemental plans help cover your share of Medicare covered expenses. A supplement will not offer any coverage beyond what is available from original Medicare.
Plans that include coverage beyond original Medicare are known as Part C plans or Medicare Advantage plans. These plans often include limited dental, vision and hearing benefits.
Since Medicare supplement plans are standardized the benefits will be the same from one insurance company to the next. Comparing plans between companies comes down to three things.
- The plans premium
- The companies track record with rate stability
- How you feel about the company from a customer service perspective
It’s also important to recognize that Part D is not included in Medigap policies and you will need to purchase a stand-alone Medicare drug plan.
After you understand the differences between the different types of plans it pays to shop. There are many websites where you can compare plans from multiple carriers. Many people have found the ehealthInsurance website both helpful and easy to navigate.
Popular Medicare supplemental plans
Although there are several standardized plans available, some are more popular than others. Plans also afford you varying degrees of coverage which is generally reflected in the monthly premium.
The most comprehensive coverage is available with Medicare supplement Plan F. People who have purchased Plan F will often have no out-of-pocket expense for Medicare covered services. Medicare Part B excess charges are covered as is foreign travel up to plan limits. Plan F will generally have the highest premium. Be sure not to confuse Plan F with High Deductible Plan F.
In June 2010 Medicare supplements were re-tooled with some plans being eliminated and two new plans being added. Medicare supplement Plan N has become wildly popular because of the lower premium and limited underwriting available from some companies.
Whether you are first becoming eligible for Medicare, have guaranteed issue rights due to a change of status or just want to find a new plan, finding the best Medicare supplement insurance is easy when you compare rates from several carriers. Medigap premiums can vary widely and it pays to compare.
Finding the best supplemental Medicare insurance requires that you first know what coverage is available. Read the Medicare publication, Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare, to learn about enrollment periods and available plans.
After you have familiarized yourself with the standardized plans, investigate several carriers to locate the best Medicare supplement insurance policy for you circumstances.