Part A and Part B of Original Medicare will help pay for many healthcare services, including hospital stays, office visits, and medically necessary tests and procedures. At the same time, Medicare rarely covers 100 percent of medical bills. Even more, Medicare excludes some important kinds of healthcare.
Also referred to as Medigap plans, Medicare supplement insurance plans fill in many of these coverage gaps, making healthcare expenses easier to predict and control. Instead of worrying about deductibles, copays, and coinsurance, Medicare beneficiaries may choose to simply budget for the premium of a Medicare supplement plan.
How Does Medicare Supplement Insurance Work?
You may find Medicare supplements easier to compare than other kinds of health insurance. That’s because they’re all standardized by the government. In most states, the supplements have letter names that range from Plan A to Plan N. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Massachusetts created their own standard plans; however, they offer the same kinds of basic benefits.
Even the barest standardized plans cover:
- Hospital and hospice coinsurance and an extra 365 days in the hospital after exhausting Medicare’s limit
- Part B coinsurance or copays
- The first three pints of blood for a transfusion
More robust plans offer more benefits and usually cost somewhat more. Some Medigap plans even cover things that Medicare will exclude. Examples include medical charges over Medicare’s limits and urgent or emergency care in foreign countries. Most Medicare plans also come with membership perks that may offer discounts for other healthcare essentials, like dental care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, and fitness classes.
Common Expenses Medicare Supplements Don’t Cover
The government focused on providing health insurance that filled in Original Medicare’s coverage gap when they designed the standardized Medigap plans. Just like Original Medicare, Medicare supplements won’t help pay for most prescription drugs. Likewise, this supplemental insurance doesn’t cover most dental, hearing, or vision care.
To cover medication, Medicare beneficiaries can buy a Part D drug plan. Similarly, seniors can find plans that provide dental, hearing, and vision benefits; however, these aren’t provided by Medicare.
Are Medicare Supplements Different Than Medicare Advantage Plans?
Private insurers offer both Medicare supplements and Medicare Advantage plans. Nobody can have both of these plans at the same time, and everybody on Medicare should understand how they’re different:
- Most Medicare Advantage plans are managed care, so they rely heavily on a network of providers. In contrast, most healthcare providers in the United States accept Medicare and Medicare supplements.
- Most Medicare Advantage plans come bundled with drug coverage, so there’s no need to buy a stand-alone Part D plan.
- Medigap generally picks up the bill where Original Medicare stops paying, so beneficiaries use both Original Medicare and their supplement. In contrast, Medicare Advantage members rely entirely upon their Medicare Advantage plan.
Are Medicare Supplements Best for Medicare Beneficiaries?
Because they don’t rely on networks, some people like the flexibility they enjoy with Medigap. That’s particularly true of Medicare recipients who like to travel because some Medicare Advantage plans rely on local networks. Of course, many people just want to enjoy more control over selecting their own doctors and hospitals. If they buy one of the most robust supplements, they can simply pay their premium and not worry about excessive out-of-pocket costs.
On the other hand, many retired people may find that Medicare Advantage helps them save money with modest deductibles and premiums and built-in drug coverage.
These days, Medicare recipients have lots of options. In turn, finding the best option can present a challenge. To find the best Medicare insurance to suit your own lifestyle, budget, and healthcare needs, schedule your free consultation with the experienced agents at The Insurance Hub today.