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 Original 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.
Medicare Supplement Plans
To be eligible to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan, you must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B. A good time to enroll in a plan is generally during the Medigap Open Enrollment Period, which begins on the first day of the month that you are both age 65 or older and enrolled in Part B, and lasts for six months. During this period, you have the guaranteed-issue right to join any Medicare Supplement plan available where you live. You may not be denied coverage based on any pre-existing conditions during this enrollment period (although a waiting period may apply). If you miss this enrollment period and attempt to enroll in the future, you may be denied coverage or charged a higher premium based on your medical history.
Supplemental Medicare Coverage
All Medigap plans are standardized. The plans available are lettered A-N. The only difference between Plan F with company “A” and Plan F with company “B” is the price. The benefits and coverage are identical. When comparing Medicare supplement plans it almost always only makes sense to go with the best-priced company.
Medicare: What Are Medigap Plans?
However, you may have to wait up to six months for coverage if you have a pre-existing health condition. The insurer through which you buy your Medigap policy can refuse to cover out-of-pocket costs for pre-existing conditions during that period. After six months, the Medigap policy must cover the pre-existing condition. The exception to this rule is if you buy a Medigap policy during your open enrollment period and have had continuous “creditable coverage,” or a health insurance policy for the six months before buying a policy. The Medigap insurance company cannot withhold coverage for a pre-existing condition in that case.
Medigap (Medicare Supplement Health Insurance)
A Medigap policy is health insurance sold by private insurance companies to fill the “gaps” in Original Medicare Plan coverage. Medigap policies help pay some of the health care costs that the Original Medicare Plan doesn’t cover. If you are in the Original Medicare Plan and have a Medigap policy, then Medicare and your Medigap policy will each pay its share of covered health care costs. Generally, when you buy a Medigap policy you must have Medicare Part A and Part B. You will have to pay the monthly Medicare Part B premium ($96.40 in 2011 for most beneficiaries). In addition, you will have to pay a premium to the Medigap insurance company. As long as you pay your premium, your Medigap policy is guaranteed renewable. This means it is automatically renewed each year. Your coverage will continue year after year as long as you pay your premium. In some states, insurance companies may refuse to renew a Medigap policy bought before 1992. Insurance companies can only sell you a “standardized” Medigap policy. Medigap policies must follow Federal and state laws. These laws protect you. The front of a Medigap policy must clearly identify it as “Medicare Supplement Insurance.” It’s important to compare Medigap policies, because costs can vary. The standardized Medigap policies that insurance companies offer must provide the same benefits. Generally, the only difference between Medigap policies sold by different insurance companies is the cost. You and your spouse must buy separate Medigap policies.Your Medigap policy won’t cover any health care costs for your spouse. Some Medigap policies also cover other extra benefits that aren’t covered by Medicare. You are guaranteed the right to buy a Medigap policy under certain circumstances. For more information on Medigap policies, you may call 1-800-633-4227 and ask for a free copy of the publication “Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People With Medicare.” You may also call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) and your State Insurance Department. Phone numbers for these Departments and Programs in each State can be found in that publication.
Medicare Supplement Plans Overview
Now that you know more about Medicare Supplement plans, you may be wondering if one of these plans may be right for you. I always enjoy helping people figure this out. If you’d like to start out by getting some more information in front of you, use the links below, which let you schedule a phone appointment or have me email you information about plans. To take a look at all available Medicare plans right now, use the Compare Plans buttons on this page. To get to know me better, take a look at my photo and profile below (see my profile by clicking on the “View profile” link). Or, if you need assistance right away, just call me or another licensed insurance agent at the contact details below.
Medicare Supplement Plans, Avoid Coverage Gaps
Once your six-month Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period starts, it can’t be changed. However, in some situations, you have the right to buy a Medicare Supplement policy outside of your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. In some states these plans may be available to those under age 65. For those applying for a Medicare Supplement policy prior to age 65, your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period begins on the first day you’re enrolled in Medicare Part B.
Medicare.gov: the official U.S. government site for Medicare