Every day, ten thousand Americans turn 65 years old, making them eligible for Medicare benefits.
Many of these Medicare beneficiaries could benefit from the remarkable flexibility, savings, and coverage levels offered by Medicare Supplement insurance plans. But it can be hard to know how to get started. And, in fact, studies suggest that many Medicare beneficiaries might not even be aware that they have coverage options beyond original Medicare.
With this in mind, it’s time to demystify Medicare Supplements. Here are the answers to six important Medicare Supplement FAQs:
1. “What Is Medicare Supplement Insurance?”
Medicare Supplement insurance—also called Medigap—is private health insurance, designed to help pay for some of the health care costs that original Medicare doesn’t cover, like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Many doctors, hospitals, and Medicare recipients consider Medicare Supplement plans the “Gold Standard” of Medicare coverage.
2. “Am I Eligible for Medicare Supplement Insurance?”
Broadly speaking, you will be eligible to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan if you meet the following criteria:
- You are enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B
- You are 65 years old, or older
It’s that simple! In some states, individuals younger than 65 can enroll if they meet certain qualifying health conditions (such as having a qualifying disability or end-stage renal disease).
An important thing to keep in mind is that not every type of Medicare Supplement plan is available in every state. You can only enroll in the plans that are offered within your state of residence. Talking with a health insurance broker is a great way to quickly and easily take a look at all of your options, and see which types of Medicare Supplement plans are available to you.
3. “Yes, I’ve Heard There Are Different Types of Medicare Supplement Plans. But What Does This Mean?”
There are different Medicare Supplement plans with different levels of coverage that you can choose from, with options available for every lifestyle and budget.
Broadly speaking, there are ten (10) types of Medicare Supplement plans available, identifiable by letters A through N, and all of these plans are standardized according to state and federal laws. Not every type of policy will be available in every state. However, the benefits of the policies that are available are regulated, so every insurance provider must provide the same basic level of coverage. That is to say that the basic benefits of Medigap Plan A, for example, will always be the same, from insurance carrier to insurance carrier, regardless of location.
These different policies (Plans A–N) largely offer coverage for the same basic benefits, but they do so to different degrees. It’s important to carefully review all of the plans that are available to you. Some will offer additional benefits above and beyond what the standard baseline provides; others will offer more or less coverage for certain healthcare needs; and others come with different deductibles or out-of-pocket limits.
For a more in-depth look at how different Medicare Supplement plans compare, we encourage you to view our article, “How Do I Choose a Medicare Supplement Plan?”
4. “What Are Some of the Advantages of Medicare Supplement Insurance?”
Original Medicare can leave substantial gaps in your coverage. So even with an original Medicare policy in place, you can easily spend thousands of dollars each year for out-of-pocket medical expenses, like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.
Supplement plans can help address these expenses and significantly ease the burden of your healthcare costs, while also helping to provide assistance with some of the other gaps left by traditional Medicare, like the prescription drug “donut hole” that often comes with Medicare Part D. In short, Medical Supplement insurance offers a sense of security about both the predictable and unexpected costs associated with medical care.
The financial protection offered by Medicare Supplement coverage can allow you to:
- Keep your lifestyle intact
- Protect your family’s financial security
- Leave a legacy for the people and organizations you care deeply about
- Go out and enjoy your life goals in retirement
In addition, Medicare Supplement insurance often offers greater flexibility and freedom than both original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. For instance, Medicare Supplement plans are accepted by all hospitals and medical facilities that accept Medicare, meaning that most Medicare Supplement recipients will be able to keep their preferred providers.
For even more information, feel free to read our article, “How Medicare Supplement Insurance Keeps Your Family Secure.”
5. “When Can I Enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan?”
Most health insurance professionals agree that the best time to enroll in a Medicare Supplement policy is during your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period.
Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period is the six-month window that begins on first day of the month that you are both aged 65 or older and are enrolled in Medicare Part B. So if, for example, you turn 65 on August 4, but don’t join Medicare Part B until September 20, your Medigap Open Enrollment Period will begin on October 1st: the first day of the month that you are both 65 years old and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
Why is this window so important? During your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, you will be able to shop for plans with guaranteed issue, meaning that insurance companies may not use medical underwriting to review your application. This means that they cannot use your medical history or pre-existing conditions to charge you more for coverage, or delay or deny you coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition.
For more specifics on enrolling in Medicare Supplement plans, including what it takes to switch coverage, please read on in our article, “When Can I Buy a Medigap Insurance Plan?”
6. “How Do I Enroll in Medicare Supplement Insurance?”
Those eligible for Medicare Supplement coverage can enroll directly with an insurance provider.
But the reality is that this process is often easier said than done.
There are many different types of coverage options out there. Different insurance companies will each charge different amounts for coverage, and not all plans are available everywhere. What’s more, the healthcare insurance marketplace is always changing. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there, and a lot of the major resources regarding insurance information can be tricky to navigate. None of this is made any easier when you have to spend time trying to get your questions answered from anonymous call centers or faceless online chatbots.
How can you be sure that you’re getting the best possible coverage, tailored to your unique needs, and at a price that works for your budget?
Many Medicare beneficiaries ultimately find that working with a health insurance broker, like Matt Peebles of the Enrollment Specialists, makes the process of finding the right Medicare Supplement Plan easier, faster, and a lot less stressful.
Matt is a health insurance superhero, ready to help you customize the insurance policy that will best suit your needs—all at absolutely no cost to you.
When you work with Matt and the Enrollment Specialists, we’ll get to know you, and work with you at every step of the way to make sure that your healthcare insurance costs are always minimized while your coverage is at its peak.
And unlike other insurance brokers, Matt won’t disappear once he’s helped you find the perfect Medicare Supplement option! Whenever you have a question or concern, for the entire life of your policy, Matt will always be just a phone call or email away, ready to swoop in and save the day.
Want to join one of the hundreds of satisfied clients who can confidently say “I Got A Guy” for all things Medicare Supplement insurance? Don’t hesitate to drop us a line today to get the conversation started!