A common question that we hear is, “Will Medicare pay for all my medical expenses?” Simply put, the answer is no. There are some out-of-pocket expenses that Medicare doesn’t cover that a Medicare Supplement plan will. This includes deductibles and coinsurance.
Take a look at the 10 advantages to a Medicare Supplement plan below:
Let’s say you regularly need to purchase Medicare-covered, but costly, medical supplies. Under Medicare Part B, 80 percent of your total costs may be taken care of, but 20 percent of the bill is still your responsibility. You’ll need to reach the yearly Medicare Part B deductible before Medicare begins to pay its share; this deductible amount may change from year to year. If you’re protected by a Medicare Supplement plan, that extra 20 percent out of your pocket will be at least partly covered (completely covered by many Medicare Supplement plans).
If you’re on vacation outside the U.S. and an accident or sudden illness happens to you, some Medicare Supplement plans help cover medical expenses outside of the country.
Depending on when you buy Medicare Supplement insurance, the insurance company has to accept you as a member even if you have health problems, and it can’t charge you a higher rate because of your condition. This is true if you buy your Medicare Supplement plan during the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period (the six-month period starting the month you turn 65 and have Medicare Part B). You can apply for a Medicare Supplement policy anytime you like, but if you apply after the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, in most cases the health insurer can refuse to sell you a policy, or charge you more, based on a review of your health history. In some cases—for example, if you’re losing other Medicare coverage—you have “guaranteed issue rights” to get a Medicare Supplement plan if you buy it after the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period.
Even if you have health problems, all standardized Medicare Supplement plans are guaranteed renewable, meaning insurance companies can’t cancel your plan if you’re making your premium payments. This also means your policy will automatically renew every year.
Under most Medicare Supplement policies, you’ll be covered if you visit any doctor and hospital that participates in Medicare. An exception is a Medicare SELECT policy, which is a type of Medicare Supplement plan that may require you to use providers and hospitals in its network.
The 10 standard Medicare Supplement policies offer a wide variety of coverage to help pay your Original Medicare costs. Those plans with the most coverage tend to have higher monthly premiums, while the reverse is also true.
All 10 of the standardized Medicare Supplement policies are regulated by law; all the benefits from each separate plan are the same, regardless of who your insurer is or (in most states) where you live. This is important to note when comparing prices with various insurance agencies. Plans are standardized somewhat differently in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
With Medicare Supplement insurance, not only do you get to choose a plan that suits your needs—you also have the option of adding Medicare prescription drug coverage. You can buy any stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan that serves your area. A stand-alone Medicare Part D plan works alongside your Original Medicare coverage and isn’t part of the Medicare Supplement plan. (You may have a Medicare Supplement plan that offers prescription drug coverage if your plan had that coverage when you bought it, but you can’t buy a new Medicare Supplement plan with drug coverage anymore.)
In most cases, you can keep your Medicare Supplement policy when you move within the U.S.
In some situations, you can switch from one Medicare Supplement policy to another. You may not want to drop your former Medicare Supplement policy at first—when coverage starts on your new Medicare Supplement policy, you will have 30 days to decide whether you wish to continue with that specific plan, or return to the old one.
There are many reasons you might want to take advantage of Medicare Supplement insurance. I can help you find a Medicare Supplement policy that may work for your needs, or discuss your other Medicare coverage options with you.
Mary is a lifelong resident of Michigan City. She graduated from Elston High School before going on to receive an Associate’s degree in Business from Vincennes University. Prior to joining GIS in 2005, Mary was employed as a Human Resources Administrator at Weil-McLain. Mary has been a Eucharistic Minister at St. Stanislaus for many years. She is involved in volunteer work with the church for various fund-raising adventures. Mary enjoys traveling, reading, and attending the many fine live theatre productions that can be found throughout our region with family and friends.