4 Tips for Choosing the Best Medicare Supplement
You might have heard that there are certain “gaps” in Original Medicare coverage. That’s why Medicare Supplement plans exist. Also called Medigap plans, these health insurance policies are available from private insurance companies and help cover deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments, among other things.
We’ve come up with four tips to help you choose the ideal Medicare Supplement plan for your needs. First, though, we’ll provide you with the Medigap definition and help you understand why you should consider supplemental insurance.
Medigap is private health insurance, and it’s designed to bridge the gap between what Original Medicare covers and what patients desire in terms of health coverage. There are 10 plans available, each of which is standardized.
Think of Medigap as a way to better manage your healthcare costs. Instead of waiting for bills to roll in after an injury or illness, you pay a premium to the health insurance company so the insurer will cover more of your total healthcare costs.
No Medigap policy will cover every out-of-pocket cost, but each offers a different level of coverage. Based on your budget, you can decide which plan best suits your financial situation and health.
Consider the following types of out-of-pocket expenses to consider:
- Deductibles: A deductible is the amount of money you must pay yourself before insurance kicks in.
- Copayment: When you visit a provider, such as a doctor or hospital, you might have to make a copayment before you receive care.
- Coinsurance: This tells you whether you have to pay a certain percentage of a specific healthcare claim.
Individual Medigap plans cover various types and percentages of deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.
Medigap is different from Medicare Advantage. A Medicare Advantage plan, sometimes called MA or Part C, replaces Original Medicare Parts A and B. These plans might have lower monthly premiums, but can also further limit your options. For instance, many Medicare Advantage plans restrict your provider choices and require you to get referrals if you need to see specialists.
Now that we’ve covered the Medigap definition, let’s look at the four tips for choosing the best supplement plan for Medicare.
1. Learn Which Medicare Supplement Plans Are Available In Your Area
All Medigap plans are standardized. This means that Medicare Supplement plans offer the same coverage no matter which insurer you choose.
However, private insurance companies can decide which plans they want to offer and in which areas. An insurer might cover Plans A, B, and F, but only in three states.
This is why it’s a good idea to conduct thorough comparison shopping. Start with your zip code or city during your search to narrow down your options and get a better idea of which plans are available to you.
Private insurance companies also set their own premiums. Even though Plan A offers the same coverage regardless of whether you choose Insurer Y or Insurer Z, one insurer might charge more per month than the other.
The only way to compare is to know which plans are available in your area. Once you’ve made a list of your choices, you can compare individual plans against one another based on premium.
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2. Familiarize Yourself With All 10 Plans
Each Medicare Supplement plan covers different areas of your healthcare. They all cover 100 percent of your Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs, but every other category is different.
For instance, Plans K and L only cover 50 and 75 percent of your Medicare Part B coinsurance or copayment, respectively, while the rest of the plans cover 100 percent.
Plan F is considered the most comprehensive because it covers nearly all out-of-pocket costs. However, it’s also the most expensive plan.
For many beneficiaries, Plan G offers more value. It’s identical to Plan F except that it doesn’t cover your Part B deductible, which is $183 as of 2018.
When you shop for Medicare supplement plans, you’re likely to discover that your savings with Plan G far exceed the Part B deductible. If this is the case, you’ll benefit more from Plan G.
Other plans offer less coverage, but cost less per month. For instance, Plan A doesn’t cover the deductibles for Parts A or B, skilled nursing facility care, Part B excess charges, or foreign travel emergency costs. If you’re willing to pay for those expenses out-of-pocket, you can save money by going with this less comprehensive plan.
3. Decide What Coverage Level You Need
Once you’re familiar with the coverage levels provided by Plan A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N, you can figure out what your health and budget demand. Keep in mind that if you decide to change your Medicare Supplement plan in subsequent years, you might be subject to underwriting.
It’s better to select a plan that will serve you well from age 65 on.
Let’s say, for instance, that you never intend to travel internationally. Having coverage for foreign travel emergency care would be useless in that case.
Similarly, if the doctors you regularly see accept Medicare and charge exactly what Medicare pays, you don’t need a plan that covers excess charges. This coverage pays the difference between what a provider charges and what Medicare pays.
You might also take into consideration your overall health, pre-existing or chronic conditions, and income. If you need a plan that allows you to budget your money more effectively, a comprehensive plan like G or F might serve you best.
4. Get Quotes On Plan Premiums
Once you’ve taken stock of your health and finances and learned about the plans and coverage levels, get quotes on the Medicare Supplement plan you’ve chosen. You don’t have to worry about comparing coverage levels because they’re universal.
The Ensurem Medigap Quoter can help you get as many quotes as you need to make an informed decision. Enter your zip code and other personal information, then select the plans for which you want quotes. You can also decide whether you want to see SELECT plan quotes and how you want to view the results, such as in ascending or descending order based on cost.
The results will show you two premium quotes, one with a household discount and one without. Most insurance companies offer household discounts to encourage families to purchase multiple plans. Household discounts can help you save between 7 and 12 percent or more.
Now that you’re familiar with the Medigap definition and your options for Medicare Supplement plans, you can choose the plan that’s right for you. Visit our Medigap Quoter to instantly generate quotes for the plans in which you’re interested, and then speak to one of our licensed agents to finalize your decision.
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Education is crucial in finding the right Medicare solution for you. With so many Medicare resources out there, it can be difficult finding a source you can trust. That’s why Ensurem has a Compliance Program dedicated to ensuring our Medicare content meets Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulations. So, you can rest assured you’re getting the information you need to make the right coverage decisions.
Denise Austin, 65, Ensurem Ambassador
Best-Selling Author, Creator of Fit Over 50 Magazine
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