How to Pick the Right Supplemental Health Insurance Plan

For most of us, approaching sixty-five means applying for Medicare, and that brings up the tricky question of a Medicare insurance supplement, often called a Medigap policy. Supplemental health insurance plans pay for some of the healthcare costs not covered by Medicare. It’s easy to become bewildered by the features of the many plans offered, so let’s look at some of the considerations when choosing a Medigap policy.

Are supplemental health insurance plans held to certain standards by the government? In a nutshell, yes. Different types of Medigap policies are identified by letters indicating type of coverage, and within that category, the plans will be comparable. Every “B” policy, for example, will cover the same healthcare. An insurance agent will have a chart detailing coverage under each plan category to help decide which type of plan is best for your situation. Once you decide on a type of plan, you can compare companies’ costs knowing you are getting the same coverage under any plan bearing the same letter designation.

Do Medigap policies cover prescription drugs? Since the beginning of 2006, a separate drug coverage plan can be bought. There is quite a bit of variance among these policies. Bring a list of your medications to your agent or pharmacist to help them decide which is best for you.

When do we need to enroll for a Medigap policy? First you need to have Medicare Parts A and B. This should be Original Medicare. If you have the Medicare Advantage Plan, you can’t be sold a Medigap policy. There is an open enrollment period for Medigap plans. It’s a one time-only, 6-month period beginning in the first month you’re 65 or older and have Medicare Part B coverage.

Can my spouse and I combine our coverage under one policy? Only one person is covered under each Medicare Supplement policy. If you both need coverage, you’ll have to buy separate plans. This can be an advantage if your different circumstancessuggest different plan types.

If I’m still employed, can my employer’s health insurance be used as a Medicare supplement? Generally, the answer to this is no, but check with the insurance company or your company’s human resources manager to be sure.

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