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Massachusetts Medicare Supplemental Insurance

Massachusetts Medicare supplemental insurance is a form of private coverage upon which many Massachusetts seniors rely to help pay out-of-pocket costs associated with their regular health plans. Since Medicare only offers a basic level of coverage, a supplemental policy offers the peace of mind that hospital and doctor's visits, home care needs and medical emergencies won't ruin your financial situation or force you to dip into your savings. With so much to enjoy during retirement in Massachusetts, paying for health care shouldn't become an unnecessary source of stress.

Understanding Your Insurance

If you are age 65 or older or have certain disabilities, including permanent kidney failure, you qualify for Medicare. This government program ensures a basic level of long-term hospital care, access to doctors' visits and prescription drugs for seniors and people with disabilities. Original Medicare plans consist two parts. Part A doesn't require a monthly premium and covers hospice care, in-home health services, skilled nursing facility and hospital stays longer than 72 hours, up to 190 lifetime days. Part B covers outpatient hospital care, including overnight stays up to 72 hours, visits to your doctor, some home care services and some preventative treatments like flu shots. Unlike Part A, Part B does involve a monthly premium. A third program, called Part D, offers some coverage for prescription drugs.

You can sign up for Medicare at your local social security office as soon as you turn 65, even if you have not yet retired. You can also choose to keep your employer's insurance until you retire, which may be advisable if you are already paying for your current policy. Insurance experts recommend signing up for Part A to supplement your regular insurance even if you do not accept Part B right away. This can help pay for any hospital bills you might encounter without any added financial burden since Part A doesn't require a monthly premium. You may have to pay a penalty if you do not enroll in Part B as soon as you are eligible, but if that penalty is less than what you might have paid while carrying two policies, it may be wiser to delay Part B.

Supplemental Insurance Basics

Since Original Medicare doesn't cover the full cost of many financial services, many seniors choose supplemental coverage to pay for things like deductibles, coinsurance and other costs that would otherwise be out-of-pocket. Supplemental plans, also called Medigap, differ from Advantage Plans like HMOs and PPOs, also called Part C, in that supplemental plans not replace your care. Medigap policies cannot mandate restrictions on which doctors you can see or whether you need referrals to see specialists. Massachusetts Medicare supplemental insurance merely helps you pay for the coverage you already have, leaving the choice of doctors, hospitals and other types of care to you.

The best time to enroll in a Massachusetts Medicare supplemental insurance policy is during a period called Open Enrollment, which spans six months after you enroll in Part B. During this period, companies cannot deny you coverage or charge you a higher premium because of your lifestyle or genetic predisposition to certain diseases. A Massachusetts Medicare supplemental insurance company can make you wait up to six months to cover out-of-pocket costs for a preexisting condition, but they must cover you after that period without raising the premium. This is why signing up for a Massachusetts Medicare supplemental insurance policy during open enrollment is so important. The State Health Insurance Assistance Program for Massachusetts, available at 1-800-243-4636, can help you determine whether you can shorten or eliminate any wait periods for preexisting conditions.

Finding a Medigap Plan in Massachusetts

In most states, supplemental coverage is offered in 10 standardized plans, labeled A through N. Massachusetts is one of three states that doesn't abide by these plans. Massachusetts Medicare supplemental insurance is available in Medicare Supplement Core or Supplement 1 plans. Supplement Core covers basic care, state-mandated benefits like annual Pap tests and mammograms, and up to 60 days of inpatient care in a mental health hospital. Supplement 1 covers inpatient hospital deductibles, skilled nursing facility coinsurance, the Part B deductible and emergency care while traveling abroad. The Supplement 1 plan also covers up to 120 days per benefit year of inpatient care in mental health hospitals. Many companies can offer Massachusetts Medicare supplemental insurance, but these are the only two Medigap plans legally offered.

Massachusetts Medicare supplemental insurance policies have helped many MA seniors enjoy a sound financial retirement with the knowledge that essential medical care and unexpected emergencies won't break the bank or put a strain on hard-earned retirement funds. With so much to enjoy in Massachusetts, from sailing in Worcester, MA to the bustle of Boston, MA, seniors from Cambridge to Lowell can find peace of mind in medical care through Massachusetts Medicare supplemental insurance.

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