What are Medicare Supplements?
What are Medicare Supplements? First, Medicare Supplements have many names: Medigap Policies, Med Sup, Medicare Supplement Insurance. However, they all refer to the optional insurance coverage taken on by Original Medicare participants.
Medigap or Medicare Supplement coverage helps them in covering costs that the Medicare does not pay. For example, Medicare Part A leaves 20% of costs to participants as coinsurance. Co-pays or coinsurance is an out-of-pocket expense.
There is no penalty to not having a supplement. (Unlike not having a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plans, which does have penalties down the road if not adopted right away.) However, most seniors will opt to have a Medicare Supplement Plan with Original Medicare. This is because, out-of-pocket expenses can get, well expensive, as we get older each year.
What are Medicare Supplements Letter Plans?
Next, let’s look at what a Medicare Supplement Policies cover.
The U.S. government standardizes Medicare Supplement Policies. (This means every insurance company will offer the same benefits for each plan.) In addition, the government differentiates each plan with Letters (i.e. Plan F, Plan G, etc.). They all cover a different combination of benefits including coinsurances, copayments and deductibles.
Notes on What are Medicare Supplements Letter Plans
- According to Medicare.gov, Plan F also offers a high-deductible plan where you pay for Medicare-covered costs up to the deductible amount of $2,300 before your Medigap plan pays anything.
- Note, with Plan N pays 100% of the Part B coinsurance, except copayments apply.
- Beginning January 1, 2020, Medigap plans sold to new people with Medicare won’t be allowed to cover the Part B deductible. Because of this, Plans C and F will no longer be available to people new to Medicare starting on January 1, 2020. If you already have either of these 2 plans (or the high deductible version of Plan F) or are covered by one of these plans before January 1, 2020, you’ll be able to keep your plan. In addition, if you were eligible for Medicare before January 1, 2020, but not yet enrolled, you may be able to buy one of these plans.
- Finally, if You live in Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, plans are different, please visit this page.
What are the most popular plans?
Medicare Supplement Plans definitely have a few winners for the most popular category. First, for people that have turned 65 before January 1, 2020, Plan F has historically been the most popular. However, people that turn 65 on or after January 1, 2020, cannot get Plan F. As a result, Plan G is now gaining in popularity. You can read these articles to learn more:
What Doesn’t a Medicare Supplement Policy Cover?
In addition to asking, What are medicare supplements? We also hear, the question – What doesn’t a Medicare Supplement Cover?
Typically, Medicare Supplements do not cover long-term care (nursing home), vision or dental, hearing aids, eyeglasses, or private nursing. If you are interested in Medicare Plans that offer these extra benefits, please read about Medicare Advantage Plans here.
How to Get a Medicare Supplement Policy
- First, you must age into Medicare and apply for Original Medicare. Learn how to apply here.
- Then, you have a window of time where you are guaranteed to be accepted into a Medigap Plan. We call this window your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period (SEP).
- In addition, there are special enrollment times for retirees coming off of another plan. One example is if you are over 65, but still employed. In this instance, you would wait until you end your employee health plan to sign-up for Medicare and a Supplement.
- Finally, Open Enrollment guarantees private insurance company cannot decline your application during this time. This period starts “the first day of the month in which you’re 65 or older and enrolled in Part B” (Medicare.gov). (Note that some states may have additional Open Enrollment Periods as well).
Who can Help You with a Medigap Policy
You can compare these plans online, but I suggest you talk to a professional, independent insurance broker that can help you compare prices and help you understand each plan option. It won’t cost you any more money to use a professional, and Medicare is an ever-changing landscape that independent brokers can help you navigate.
Brokers work for you (not the carriers). As a result, you gain the valuable ability to communicate through them to insurance companies. In addition, your broker will keep you updated on any changes each year. This is something you do not get if you sign-up directly with a company online.
With government plan changes and carrier price changes, it makes sense to stay on top of things and to “shop” your supplements while you are still healthy enough to get through medical underwriting if you want to change policies or companies when you are not in an Open Enrollment. As an Independent agent myself, I make sure to stay on top of what my clients are paying and what the market has available so that my clients are always getting a good value with their supplements.