What is a Medicare Supplement? The question seems simple enough. However, if you are turning 65 or going on Medicare for the first time, it can seem a little overwhelming. You are, no doubt, getting inundated with information in the mail and computer, maybe even phone calls. There is a lot of information out there, and much of it is confusing – I would even say some of it has the end-goal in mind of confusing you. But the basic foundation of understanding Medicare Supplements is understanding what they are and what they are not.
First of all, what are they? They are plans sold by private insurance companies to fill in gaps in the Federal Medicare program (Medicare Parts A and B). These plans are Federally-standardized – in other words, the government says what they must cover. There are 10 standardized plans, which are named for letters (i.e. A, F, G, N). Each plan covers different amount of “gaps” in Medicare. Here is the coverage chart that shows what they cover: Medigap coverage chart. The individual companies set their pricing, and this can vary a good bit (although the coverage is the same on “like” plans). Also, rates vary by your age and location.
These plans pay claims automatically through the Medicare “crossover” system so you do not have to file claims. Also, they can be used at any doctor/hospital that takes Medicare, which is still your primary insurance (the Medicare Supplement is secondary). The plans are sometimes called Medigap plans. The terms “Medigap” and “Medicare Supplement” are interchangeable.
So, what are Medicare Supplements NOT? Put simply, the type of plans that replace Medicare A & B, called Medicare Advantage plans, are NOT Medicare Supplements. These plans are not supplements to Medicare, but rather replacements of Medicare. Also Medicare Part D plans (the Rx coverage part of Medicare) are technically not Medicare Supplements.
Secondly, employer-type plans are generally not Medicare Supplements. They may pay secondary to Medicare and act as a supplement, but in most cases, they don’t fall under the standardized plans structure of actual Medicare Supplements.
It is important to understand the differences in terminology between Medicare Supplements and other similar types of plans. It is important to know, also, that some agents/companies may try to call their plan a Medicare Supplement, when in reality it is not. Whenever possible, we recommend using an independent broker that can assist you (for no charge) with comparing all companies and plan types.
If you have questions or wish to discuss further, please call us at 877.506.3378 or request information on our website at http://medicare-supplement.us/medicare-supplement-quotes.php.