What Do I Need to Know about Medicare Supplemental Insurance?

medicare-supplementMedicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older and certain people under the age of 65 who have disabilities. It consists of Part A, which is hospital insurance, and Part B, which covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies and preventive services.

Even with Medicare insurance, there are some things that aren’t covered. A Medicare Supplemental Policy, also known as Medigap, can help pay some of the health care costs that Medicare doesn’t cover, like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. Medigap policies are sold by private companies – and there are a lot of Medicare supplemental insurance companies out there.

Some Medigap policies also offer coverage for services that original Medicare doesn’t cover, like medical care when you travel outside the U.S. If you have Medicare and you buy a Medigap policy, Medicare will pay its share of the Medicare-approved amount  for covered health care costs. Then your Medigap policy pays its share.

A Medigap policy is different from a Medicare Advantage Plan. Those plans provide ways to get Medicare benefits, while a Medigap policy only supplements your original Medicare benefits.

When can I buy Medigap?

The best time to buy a Medigap policy is when you first become eligible (during your 6-month Medigap open enrollment period) because you can buy any Medigap policy sold in your state, even if you have health problems. This period automatically starts the month you turn 65 and enroll in in Medicare Part B. After this enrollment period, you may not be able to buy a Medigap policy. Even if you’re able to buy one, it may cost more.

If you apply for Medigap coverage after your open enrollment period, there’s no guarantee that an insurance company will sell you a Medigap policy. In some states, you may be able to buy another type of Medigap policy called Medicare SELECT.

What do Medigap policies include?

Every Medigap policy must follow federal and state laws designed to protect you, and it must be clearly identified as “Medicare Supplement Insurance.” Insurance companies can sell you only a “standardized” policy identified in most states by letters.

All policies offer the same basic benefits but some offer additional benefits, so you can choose which one meets your needs. In Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin, Medigap policies are standardized in a different way.

It’s important to know that Medigap policies generally don’t cover long-term care, vision or dental care, hearing aids, eyeglasses or private-duty nursing.

How do you find an agent for Medicare Supplements?

Serra Benefits can help.  We can show you a Medicare supplemental insurance comparison and help you sign up for a Medicare Supplemental Insurance. Once you have signed up for Medicare Parts A & B, just give us a call at 760-439-9700 or email John Young, our Medicare expert.