Original Medicare covers the costs of many healthcare-related services for millions of Americans. Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) cover a wide array of services and care, but many Medicare recipients find that their total out-of-pocket costs associated with Original Medicare can be higher than they are comfortable with. Medicare recipients can purchase supplemental insurance to help cover some of the costs that you are responsible for paying with Original Medicare. Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, plans can help to pay many out-of-pocket expenses that you incur when you have Original Medicare, including deductibles.
What is Medigap Supplement Insurance?
While Original Medicare does offer coverage for an array of different medical services and supplies, the costs associated with them often include a monthly or annual premium and an annual deductible. Some services require you to pay coinsurance, usually 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount as long as you visit a physician who accepts assignment. These costs can add up, especially if you have unexpected medical costs or have a chronic illness that requires continued care and services. Part A and Part B also have annual deductibles. In 2019, the Part A inpatient hospital deductible is $1364 and the Part B deductible is $185.
Medigap plans can help offset these costs, making your healthcare more affordable and giving you more access to services you might otherwise be unable to afford. Medicare Supplement plans can help pay for deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. Some Medigap plans can also help cover the cost of medical care you receive while traveling abroad, so many Medicare recipients who spend time traveling outside of the United States find Medigap coverage appealing.
Medicare Supplement plans are sold by private insurance carriers. Plans are standardized by the federal government and identified by letters. Although they are regulated, Medigap plans can vary in costs and benefits. Plans require a monthly premium, and in some cases, you may be required to provide a copayment for certain services.
Are You Eligible to Purchase a Medicare Supplement Plan?
You must be enrolled in Original Medicare Part A and Part B, and most plans require you to be 65 years of age or older. If you are under 65 years old and receive Medicare benefits, you can check the Medigap plans sold in your state to see if any are available for you.
When you are 65 years of age and enrolled in Medicare Part B, you will have a guaranteed issue right to purchase any Medigap plan sold in your state. During this 6- month period, you cannot be turned down or charged more for any plan due to any pre-existing medical conditions. If you do not purchase Medigap during this initial enrollment period and decide to purchase one later, you may be subject to medical underwriting and can be turned down or charged higher costs.
Medicare Supplement policies cannot be canceled by the providing company. This means that as long as you continue to pay your premiums, the insurance company is not able to cancel your insurance plan regardless of your current state of health or the usage of your plan.