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Alaska Medicare Supplemental Insurance

Alaska Medicare supplemental insurance, also called Medigap, is a form of private insurance that helps AK residents pay for medical costs and services that original Medicare can't provide. Since different Alaska supplemental insurance companies sometimes offer different rates for identical plans, a little research can go a long way to finding the best value for your desired policy. Researching Alaska Medicare supplemental insurance companies online can save you a lot of time in determining what options are best for your unique situation.

Choosing a Supplemental Policy

Most Alaskan residents age 65 and older are already familiar with Medicare, which consists of a hospital component called Part A and a general care component called Part B. Medigap covers the out-of-pocket expenses associated with both parts, including coinsurance, deductibles and copays. Alaska Medicare supplemental insurance policies are offered in 10 standardized plans, labeled alphabetically. The most basic plan, called Plan A, covers hospital copays, Part A and B coinsurance, and the first three pints of blood withdrawn in a given year. The more comprehensive Medigap plans also cover deductibles, Part B excess charges and emergency care while overseas. Your lifestyle, overall health, income and even which AK county you live in can affect which supplemental insurance plan will give you the best coverage.

Open Enrollment and Guaranteed Issue

Understanding your Open Enrollment and Guaranteed Issue periods can save you a lot of grief, not to mention money, when it comes to switching your plan or enrolling in a new Alaska Medicare supplemental insurance policy. Open Enrollment refers to the six month period after you purchase Part B coverage. During this time you are guaranteed the right to buy an Alaska Medicare supplemental insurance policy without a physical. An Alaska Medicare supplemental insurance company also cannot charge you higher rates during Open Enrollment because of a preexisting condition. All of these advantages make it crucial to sign up for a supplemental insurance policy within your Open Enrollment period.

Guaranteed Issue periods are shorter than Open Enrollment and often offer fewer choices, but this period is just as important to keep in mind when you want to switch plans or companies. During Guaranteed Issue periods, which begin 60 days before your current plan expires and can run up to 63 days afterward, you are guaranteed certain rights in obtaining supplemental insurance, including the best price for your age and no waiting period or health screen. Guaranteed Issue typically only applies to Plans A, B, C, F, K or L and must follow an approved condition. These conditions can include involuntary termination of an employee-sponsored plan, Medicare plan fraud or loss of contract, and reduction of benefits from a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan.

You also have the right to purchase an Alaska Medicare supplemental insurance plan if you move to a new area, even if other MA options are available. Guaranteed Issue also applies to two Medicare trial periods. The first applies if you chose a Medicare Advantage plan immediately after turning 65, in which case you have a 12 month period to switch to Medigap. If you started with a Medigap plan and switch to an MA plan, you have 12 months to switch back.

Medigap in Alaska

As of August 2011, fewer than a dozen companies offer Alaska Medicare supplemental insurance, according to information from the State of Alaska. Having a small pool of options to choose from has both pros and cons for Alaskan residents. On the positive side, your research time is significantly lower with fewer companies to investigate. On the downside, your options may be limited if no company offers all 10 plans. In states with many companies to choose from, it is usually a good idea to research supplemental plans first before you select a company. In Alaska the opposite is true. Thoroughly researching each Alaska company before looking into plans will allow you to better understand your options so you don't become mentally married to a plan that you will not be able to choose while you are living in Alaska.

Researching AK companies online is a great place to start since you can compare plans and rates right away. Once you have narrowed your choices to a few that meet your needs, calling each company to get a feel for their customer service is an important next step. Even if one company offers lower rates, another might save you money in the long run if their agents are willing talk through issues and offer sound advice when you need it. Alaska Medicare supplemental insurance is a great way to cover medical costs and reduce your overall insurance expenses. Finding the right company can take some time, but researching your options online can make the process quick and easy.

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