Medicare is a popular health insurance program in the US as it subsidizes healthcare costs for the elderly and young people with disabilities. The plan covers many medical care costs but requires individuals to pay for some out-of-pocket. Medicare Supplement plans, also known as Medigap plans, fill Original Medicare gaps, making it necessary for anyone looking to reduce their healthcare costs.
Which Gaps Do Medicare Supplement Plans Fill?
With Original Medicare, you can incur out-of-pocket costs like copays, coinsurance, and deductibles. A copay is a fixed amount you should pay when you see your doctor. Medicare’s copays vary depending on the type of medical care you need and the number of days you stay in your chosen healthcare facility.
Coinsurance is a portion of the healthcare costs you need to pay after meeting your deductible. It’s a way of saying you need to share costs with your insurer. The main difference between a copay and coinsurance is that a copay is a flat fee, whereas coinsurance is a percentage of your total medical costs.
Medicare requires you to pay a certain percentage of Medicare-approved costs for Part A and Part B home health care and Part B inpatient and outpatient hospital care. You should also pay the same for Part B outpatient and partial hospitalization mental health care.
A deductible is an amount you pay for medical services before your insurer steps in to share the cost of insured services. Under Original Medicare Part A, you should pay a $1600 deductible for every inpatient benefit period this year. You can have multiple benefit periods in a year for each time you are admitted to a hospital, so you may need to pay the $1600 multiple times. Part B carries an annual deductible of $226 in 2023.
These out-of-pocket costs can be substantial if you need extensive care or are hospitalized for a long time. Medicare Supplement plans can help you manage these costs by covering your coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles depending on your plan.
Is a Medicare Supplement Plan Worthwhile?
Medicare Supplement plans are worthwhile as they can reduce your out-of-pocket expenses. The most comprehensive plans are Plan G and Plan F. Plan F covers all the gaps left by Original Medicare, whereas Plan G covers everything except the Part B deductible. The plans also pay up to 80% of emergency healthcare costs incurred while outside the US, so you can save money if you’re a frequent traveler.
A Medicare Supplement plan can also help you budget for your healthcare expenses. Medigap is more predictable than Original Medicare as your insurer will let you know your monthly premiums in advance so you can fit them into your budget. The same can’t be said for Original Medicare, as your copayments and copays vary with the type of medical care you receive. Even Medicare Advantage, which offers more coverage than Original Medicare alone, can leave you with a budgeting headache if you’re nearing your maximum out-of-pocket expense. With a comprehensive Medigap, your insurer will take care of all your unpredictable medical costs. This can help reduce your financial risk if a significant health event requiring specialized treatment or a long hospital stay occurs.
Medigap is also flexible in terms of which medical professional you choose to see. You don’t have to worry about carrier network restrictions as you can see any doctor that accepts Original Medicare.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Medigap?
Private insurers may require you to meet the following requirements to be enrolled in a Medicare Supplement plan:
You can only buy a Medicare Supplement plan if you’re age 65 or older. Some states also allow people under 65 to buy supplement plans if they’re eligible for Medicare because of disability, end-stage renal disease (ESRD), or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Confirm whether your state requires insurers to provide the plans to individuals below 65 years from your state insurance department.
You should be enrolled in both Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) to buy a supplement plan.
When Is the Best Time to Buy Medigap?
You can buy a Medigap plan during your six-month open enrollment period. The period starts the month you turn 65 and enroll in Medicare Part B. This is the best buying time, as insurers can’t deny you coverage as a result of medical underwriting. They’re also required to sell you a plan at the best available rate, regardless of whether you have medical issues. If you try to switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to a Medicare Supplement plan, depending on your situation and your medical history, you might risk being denied.
Protect Your Health and Finances
Medicare Supplement plans are key for anyone looking to protect their health and minimize financial risks. These plans cover out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and copays, potentially saving you a lot of money in the long run. They can also help you budget better as they have predictable costs. For more information on Medicare Supplement plans, visit www.Medicareadvantageplans2024.org.