What is Medicare Supplement?

3 min. readlast update: 07.03.2023

Medicare Supplement, also known as Medigap, refers to private health insurance plans that help cover the "gaps" or expenses that are not fully paid for by Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). These plans are designed to work alongside Original Medicare to help pay for certain out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments.

Here are some key points to understand about Medicare Supplement plans:

  1. Coverage: Medicare Supplement plans are standardized and labeled with letters (Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, etc.). Each plan offers a different set of standardized benefits, although the coverage for a particular lettered plan is the same regardless of the insurance company offering it. It's important to note that Medicare Supplement plans do not cover prescription drugs, so you may need to enroll in a separate Medicare Part D plan for prescription drug coverage.
  2. Cost-sharing: Medigap plans can help reduce or eliminate your out-of-pocket costs. For example, if Medicare Part A has a deductible, a Medicare Supplement plan may cover some or all of that deductible. Similarly, if Medicare Part B has a coinsurance or copayment, a Medigap plan may cover a portion or all of those costs.
  3. Premiums: In addition to your Medicare Part B premium, you will generally pay a monthly premium for your Medicare Supplement plan. Premiums can vary depending on the plan you choose and the insurance company providing the coverage. It's essential to compare the costs and benefits of different plans before selecting one that suits your needs and budget.
  4. Eligibility: To be eligible for a Medicare Supplement plan, you must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B. You can generally purchase a Medigap plan during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, which starts when you're 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B. During this period, you have guaranteed issue rights, meaning insurance companies can't deny you coverage or charge higher premiums based on your health status or pre-existing conditions.
  5. Coverage outside the U.S.: Some Medicare Supplement plans offer coverage for medical emergencies that occur during foreign travel. However, this coverage is limited and has specific conditions, so it's important to review the details of your plan if you travel frequently.

It's worth noting that starting in 2020, Medicare Supplement plans no longer offer coverage for the Part B deductible for new beneficiaries. Only individuals who were eligible for Medicare prior to January 1, 2020, are allowed to enroll in Medigap plans that cover the Part B deductible.

If you're interested in a Medicare Supplement plan, it's recommended to compare the available options, review the benefits and costs, and consider your specific healthcare needs to determine the most suitable plan for you.

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