Medicare Supplement insurance plans are not nearly as complex as you think. Often, I hear the refrain that people are overwhelmed with the choices and the abundance of information that is available; however, I believe this also greatly contributes to the complexity with which they are viewed. In reality, the plans are pretty straight-forward. This article is designed to be a primer, with the goal being that you could discard your whole “stack” of information and just read this and know enough to make a wise Medicare supplement plan selection when you are turning 65 or just going on Medicare for the first time.
- The plans are standardized. Every company is required to go by the standardized plans chart and offer the same coverage plans. Here is the Medigap coverage chart.
- Plans can be used anywhere, nationwide, that takes Medicare. Medigap plans (another name for Medicare Supplements) are non-network plans. You do not have to check with your doctor about each plan – if your doctor takes Medicare, he/she will take any Medigap plan.
- Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans are very different from Medicare Advantage plans, which replace Medicare. Advantage plans are NOT Medicare Supplements, and really, cannot be compared to one another.
- The most predominant factor that should be used when comparing Medicare Supplement plans is the rate offered. Since coverage, claim payments and doctor acceptance are all standardized, this is the most important factor.
- You have a 6-month open enrollment window when you first turn 65 or sign up for Medicare. After that time, you can change plans at any time. Contrary to popular belief, there is not an annual enrollment period for Medicare Supplements (only applies to Part D). However, in most companies/situations, you do have to answer medical questions.
- Prescription coverage is provided through Medicare Part D. Medicare Supplement plans do not cover prescription drugs.
- Medicare Supplement companies are ranked by AM Best, which is an independent rating service that rates insurance companies. These ratings can be viewed on AM Best’s website; however, they are not an indicator on whether, if or how a company pays claims, as all companies pay claims through the Medicare “crossover” system. They are more of a reflection on the financial “size” of a company.
- You can get Medicare Supplement quotes or rates online, typically, from an independent brokerage that works with all of the companies so that you can compare in a centralized place. This is advisable as you can get an unbiased comparison of the options so you can make an informed decision based on rates, company history etc.
This is, obviously, not an exhaustive list of everything you need to know about Medigap plans. However, it is a comprehensive list that can be used to inform you about the main things you need to know about Medicare Supplement plans, in a short, easy to understand way.
If you have additional questions, or if we can help in any way, please contact us online at Medicare-Supplement.US or toll-free at 877.506.3378.