The government is involved, so why in the world do I want one of these Medicare supplemental plans? They could not even do that Clash for Clunkers program right, but I’m supposed to trust them with my health insurance?
Well let’s talk about it a little bit.
Where Did Medigaps Come From?
Medicare was born out of the desire to help senior citizens acquire health insurance at a reasonable price. If you think about it, most people make use of health insurance in their senior years much more frequently than in their younger days. The government, in one of its rare moments of clarity, realized that without regulation, insurance companies would charge seniors much higher premiums for healthcare. In fact, the premiums would most likely be so high that few seniors would be able to afford it.
While Medicare does indeed help to solve this problem, it does not provide extensive insurance coverage. There are still many times with Medicare alone that an insured individual would have to pay out of pocket costs for healthcare.
Realizing that many seniors are not financially in a position to cover a considerable lump sum payment for health services, in another rare moment of clarity, the government instituted Medicare supplemental insurance plans. These plans are designed to cover the gaps in coverage left by Medicare alone, hence the term they are often known by, Medigaps.
Ok, So What Else Do I Need To Know?
First of all, there are 10 different Medicare supplemental plans. Insurers can only offer these 10 plans. Some offer all 10. Others offer less. That is up to the insurer.
What the insurer cannot change, is the coverage options. Medicare supplemental plan A at XYZ company is exactly the same as Medicare supplemental plan A at ABC company. The only thing they can change is the price at which they offer the plans. This is an enormous benefit to consumers. When shopping for Medigaps, unlike most insurance coverage, they can truly compare apples to apples, and grapes to grapes, and steak to steak… damnit I’m getting hungry. Ok, getting back on track… Consumers only need to make a buying decision based on price and who they want to do business with. The coverage is identical.
The plans range from A to F. On the smaller end, Plan A covers a few of the gaps left by Medicare, while on the extreme other end, Plan F covers every one of the gaps.
The cost of each plan will be based on the age, gender, overall health, and location of the individual to be insured. Anyone just turning 65 or going on Medicare Part B for the first time can enter into a plan during the Open Enrollment. Open enrollment means that for 6 months, individuals have the opportunity to enroll in a Medicare supplemental insurance plan without having to go through a health examination. Anyone with a serious health condition or lifestyle that normally would result in an increased premium for their health insurance, for example smokers, can enroll during this period and pay the exact same rates that any other insured individual would pay.
A few other facts from Medicare’s official website:
-Medigap policies generally do not cover long-term care, vision care, dental care, hearing aids, glasses, or private-duty nursing.
-Medigap policies only cover one person. There are no family plans. If you and your spouse both wish to have Medigap coverage, you each will need to buy a policy separately.
-Any insurance company that is licensed to sell them in your state can issue you a Medigap policy.
-You must have Medicare Part A and Part B to enroll in a Medigap policy.
For more information about Medicare supplemental insurance, contact your insurance agent to discuss your needs.