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Washington Medicare Supplemental Insurance

Washington Medicare supplemental insurance has helped many WA residents enhance their medical care by covering premiums, coinsurance and deductibles that are not covered by original Medicare. Many Washington residents across the state, from Seattle, WA to Tacoma, WA, also turn to supplemental insurance plans to help cover select preventative treatments, outpatient care and extended hospital stays. Washington Medicare supplemental insurance plans are not Medicare Advantage Plans, like HMOs or PPOs, which replace your regular care and can restrict your choices or mandate referrals to see specialists. Supplemental plans simply help to lower or eliminate premiums with the care you already have so you owe less out-of-pocket.

Qualifying for Medicare

United States residents and spouses ages 65 or older qualify for Medicare, a government run program intended to give seniors a guaranteed form of health insurance. People with certain disbilities, including anyone with permanent kidney failure, also qualify. You do not need to be retired to enroll. In fact, you can supplement coverage you receive from your employer with hospital coverage from Medicare, known as Part A. This plan can help cover any inpatient hospital stays longer than 72 hours, skilled nursing facility, hospice care and home health care.

You must either be retired or choose Medicare over your employer's plan to enroll in Part B. In some cases a late enrollment fee may apply if you do not enroll as soon as you are eligible. Part B covers medically necessary outpatient care, visits to your doctor and some preventive services. Enrollment in both Part A and Part B is required before you can purchase Washington Medicare supplemental insurance. Many Washington companies can help you decide which supplemental plan best suits your needs and lifestyle, whether you're looking for a low cost option to cover the basics or seek maximum coverage at value.

Types of Supplemental Plans

Federal law has authorized companies to offer 10 standardized Medigap plans, labeled A through N. As of 2010, Plans E, H, I and J are no longer available, but people who enrolled in those plans before they expired are allowed to keep them. Plan A offers the most basic coverage and Plan F the most comprehensive, including 100 percent of deductibles for hospital visits and doctors' office, Part B coinsurance and excess charges, hospice coinsurance and copay, skilled nursing facility and emergency care when you travel outside the United States.

The best time to enroll in a Washington Medicare supplemental insurance plan is during Open Enrollment, the six-month period after you purchase Parts A and B. During this period Medigap companies cannot refuse to sell you a policy or make you wait for general supplemental coverage because of a health issue. A company can make you wait up to six months to cover preexisting conditions, but after six months, your company is required to cover the condition.

Your overall health, habits, genetic predispositions to certain conditions and lifestyle will dictate the right Washington Medicare supplemental insurance option for you. If you love to travel, for example, you'll want a Medigap plan that covers medical emergencies abroad. You might also consider a more comprehensive plan if your retirement dreams include activities like skiing and scuba diving, or giving lots of piggybacks to grandchildren. Retirement doesn't mean giving up on adventure or sticking to a sedentary life. Preparing for unexpected health issues with supplemental coverage can keep you living life to the fullest without the stress of steep medical bills.

Finding Insurance in Washington

The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner has approved 21 companies to sell Washington Medicare supplemental insurance, although some plans only apply to certain counties. All 10 Medigap standardized plans are approved in Washington for the year 2011. Some companies offer insurance without a health screening, although firms that do require screenings sometimes offer lower premiums. Washington Medicare supplemental insurance companies can change their rates throughout the year, so researching firms near you can help you find the most current premiums.

The state of Washington offers a free consumer insurance hot line, manned by volunteer health compliance analysts, at 800-652-6900. If you have questions about which Washington Medicare supplemental insurance program is right for you, this nonprofit resource can help you determine which one you need. Since standardized plans are uniform across the country, visiting company Web sites to compare rates on premiums for the plan you want can also help you make the best decision.

Planning for retirement or dealing with a serious medical issue can be stressful, but paying for health care shouldn't have to be. A Washington Medicare supplemental insurance plan can give you the peace of mind to live fully knowing that any unexpected health issues won't ruin your finances. Investigate your options to find the best plan for you.

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