What is a Medicare Supplement?
Medicare Supplement Insurance goes by a few different names in the marketplace. A Medicare Supplement can also be called a Medigap health insurance policy or a Medigap supplemental insurance. Either way you describe it the plan is built to help pay the “gap” between Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B) and what the insured would have to pay out of their own pocket.
There are 10 different Medigap coverage options. The plans are titled A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M and N. Like individual health insurance options each plan has different benefits. Some are less expensive, but the coverage benefits are lower than a plan where the premium is higher. It is important to discuss your needs and concerns with an experienced agent.
You purchase plans through private insurance companies, but the plans are regulated by state and Federal laws. Each Medicare Supplement Plan must provide the same coverage options no matter the insurer. The differences will be in price, the company controlling the plan, and which plans are available to from the insurance company.
When Can I Buy?
The best time to buy a Medicare Supplement insurance plan is when you turn 65. The open enrollment starts the first day of the month in which you turn 65 and are covered under Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. There is a six month window of time for you to enroll in a plan. If you enroll during this six month open enrollment the plan must be offered to you. However, there may be up to a six month waiting period for a pre-existing condition.
**If you are under 65 and qualify for Medicare talk to your state’s Social Security Administration to see when your are eligible to enroll.**
If you enroll in a Medicare Supplement outside the six month open enrollment period, the plan may be underwritten by the company. The underwriting process may require a physical and existing health conditions could become factors in your acceptance. An insurance company can refuse to sell the Medigap plan or adjust the premium based on the underwriting findings.
Things I need to be aware of …
- Medicare Supplements are plans that help fill in the gaps, but if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan or are interested in an Advantage plan you are not allowed to use a Medigap plan. You also cannot be sold a Medigap policy.
- Medicare Supplements do not have prescription drug coverage built into their plans. You must find that coverage in a Part D Prescription Drug Plan.
- Medicare Supplements can be rated in three ways:
- Community rated – premiums are the same for everyone, regardless of age
- Issue age rated – premiums are based on your age when you buy the policy. The sooner the better.
- Attained age rated – premiums are based on your current age, meaning it goes up as you become older