Medicare Supplement plans are also called Medigap. They are designed to work with Original Medicare Parts A and B. They help pay for some health care costs not covered by Original Medicare, such as deductibles, coinsurance and foreign travel emergency.
These plans are offered by private insurance companies in your state, and are available to people with Medicare Part A and B. Most states require you to be 65 to be eligible.
People with Original Medicare and a Medicare supplement can choose from any of the stand alone Part D prescription plans to pay for their drugs.
Note: People who are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans are not eligible for a Medicare Supplement insurance policy.
Is there a monthly premium?
Yes. You pay your Medicare Supplement premiumin addition to your Part B premium. There are 10 Medicare supplement plans and they are standardized. The benefits are the same regardless of which company you get coverage from, but the premiums can vary. The most popular plans are F & G.
Plan F pays 100% of the Medicare Part A & B deductibles, copays and the 20%. Plan G pays all but the Medicare Part B deductible.
When can you enroll in a Medicare supplement plan?
You will have the opportunity to enroll without any health questions within 6 months of your Part B effective date. This is a time when you can get any of the plans without answering any health questions. After the six month open enrollment period, you must answer some health questions and you could be turned down if you have some serious health conditions.
There is also a “guaranteed issue period” for those who lose qualifying coverage such as a group plan or if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan that was canceled. The guaranteed issue period starts the day you lose your coverage and runs for 63 days.
Benefits of Medicare Supplement plans
- Freedom to choose your doctors and hospitals as long as they accept Medicare.
- The same basic standardized plan benefits, but costs vary by company and policy.
- Medicare Supplement plans are portable. You can use the plans in any state.
- Foreign travel emergency benefit of up to $50,000
- Automatic claims filing.
- Plan F pays 100% of your Medicare Part A & B deductibles and the 20%.
- Plan G pays everything Plan F pays except the Part B deductible. Premiums are around 25% lower than Plan F.
- Plan N pays the Part A deductible and copays and the 20% coinsurance for Part B. It does not pay the Part B deductible. There is also an office visit and ER copay on Plan N. The office visit copay cannot exceed $20, even for a specialist. The ER copay cannot exceed $50 and it is waived if you are admitted as an inpatient. Premiums are 30% lower than Plan F.
- Plan L pays 75% of the Part A deductible and skilled nursing coinsurance. It pays the Part A copays and provides an additional year in the hospital. Plan L pays 75% of the 20%, leaving you 5%. The premiums are about 40% lower than F.
- The option to add dental vision & hearing coverage, cancer coverage and your choice of Part D prescription coverage.
What’s not covered:
- Long-term care
- Vision care
- Dental care
- Hearing aids
- Private-duty nursing
- Prescription drugs