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Supplemental Health Insurance for Medicare

Supplemental health insurance for Medicare is an economic way to cover all you medical needs while maintaining your freedom to choose any health provider accepting Medicare. Unlike Medicare Advantage plans such as HMOs or PPOs which place stipulations on the doctors you can see and what referrals you must obtain to see a specialist, supplemental health insurance for Medicare is simply private coverage that you can purchase to work in conjunction with your regular Medicare plan. Since Medicare can only cover 80 percent of expenses related to the services offered, a supplemental policy can help make up the difference so you don't need to pay coinsurance or deductibles out-of-pocket.

Who Needs Supplemental Insurance

Anyone enrolled in original Medicare, which consists of a hospital component called Part A and a general care component called Part B, can benefit from  Medicare supplemental health insurance. You must be enrolled in both Parts A and B to purchase supplemental health insurance for Medicare, which is also called Medigap. Depending on your policy, Medigap can cover everything from basic coinsurance to your deductibles, excess charges and other services such as foreign emergency travel insurance.

Medigap is beneficial for people of all financial backgrounds. If you struggle to make ends meet and have a small retirement nest egg, you might feel like you can't afford supplemental health insurance. Leaving your health up to fate, however, can be an expensive mistake. Since no one can predict the future, taking a chance that you won't ever face an expensive medical condition can leave you vulnerable to out-of-pocket costs that you might not be able to afford. In fact, seniors with modest incomes often benefit the most from supplemental health insurance for Medicare since they are hit the hardest when forced to pay expensive health care costs out-of-pocket.

Applying for Medigap Coverage

Enrolling in supplemental health insurance for Medicare is easy. Every senior has a legal right to a supplemental health plan, so you are guaranteed the ability to purchase a basic Medigap policy. If you apply during Open Enrollment, or the first six months from the time you enroll in Parts A and B, all Medigap providers must allow you to enroll in your first-choice plan if they offer it. Moreover, they cannot charge you a higher premium because of your medical history. During Open Enrollment, you do not need to take a physical or go through medical underwriting. This isn't to say that every company must offer every plan, however. Only by researching different providers can you determine what plans are available with different companies.

This is where purchasing supplemental health insurance for Medicare can require some research. Supplemental health insurance for Medicare is available in 10 different policies, labeled Plan A through Plan N. All policies must feature the benefits included in Medigap Plan A, which includes coinsurance for Parts A and B and the first three pints of blood drawn in a given year. All companies must at least offer Plan A, and most also offer the comprehensive Plan F. Plan F includes all benefits from Plan A, plus your deductible costs, excess charges and foreign travel emergency coverage. Medigap plans can also include high-deductible policies like Plans K and L, as well as cost-sharing options like M and N. These are good options if you are healthy and can shoulder a steep deductible if you happen to need more coverage than expected.

Finding the Best Medigap Provider

You can purchase supplemental health insurance for Medicare from any company authorized to sell Medigap in your state. Your state insurance office Web site should offer a complete list of providers authorized to sell policies in your state. Your state office is a great resource for learning your rights related to Medigap coverage. There are several factors to consider when choosing a supplemental insurance provider. The first step in your research should be to determine what plans each provider offers. When you have narrowed your list to the companies offering your first-choice policy, your next step is to compare rates for your area.

You should also research how companies determine rates based on age. Some companies charge you higher rates for supplemental health insurance for Medicare as you get older, while others charge the same rate to everyone with the same policy, regardless of age. Companies can also determine your monthly premium based on your age, but let you keep that premium even as you get older. Researching how providers determine rates will allow you to find the best policy for you based on your age, budget and unique medical situation. Customer service is the final quality in determining your Medigap provider. No matter what company you choose, investing in a Medicare supplement can be one of the smartest financial decisions you make as you enter retirement.


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Beatrice D
Modesto CA

Medicare Supplemental Insurance Testimonial

This site made it easy to get the Medicare supplemental policy that was right for me. I saved a lot of my money and time. Medicare Supplemental Insurance Testimonial