Eligibility for Original Medicare is an important milestone for seniors, but it may be disappointing to learn that it does not cover everything. Part A helps with inpatient care in a hospital, skilled nursing unit and religious nonmedical health care facility. Part B provides for outpatient care, medical office visits, home health services, durable medical equipment and mental health services. But both Parts A and B have a deductible, coinsurance, copayments and no ceiling on the amount of out-of-pocket expenses that may be incurred.
Some Medicare recipients choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan instead, which provides Parts A and B, and often includes drug coverage and other additional benefits as well. Others prefer to stay on Original Medicare and simply want to supplement it to fill some of the gaps in coverage. The solution is often a Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, which is supplemental insurance for a series of plans labeled with letters A through N.
Asking the Right Questions
When researching supplement plans, there are a few key questions that may expedite the selection process:
- How much is the monthly premium?
- What is the premium based on; for example, health status, gender, smoking history or marital status?
- Does everyone pay the same premium regardless of age, or will premium increases be imposed as I age?
- Will pre-existing conditions impact the timing of my eligibility to join certain plans?
Medicare Supplement Plan G
Plan G is known for its robust coverage compared to other supplement policies. It covers all the components available in a Medigap program except the Medicare Part B deductible, and there is no limit on out-of-pocket expenses. The Part B deductible is not worth any consideration at this point because that benefit will become obsolete in 2020. The only supplement plans that currently cover it are Plans C and F, which are being phased out in 2020. Of course, the price tag reflects this suite of provisions.
Plan G is also one of the Medigap plans that include foreign travel. With so many people on the move these days, this benefit is a priority for those who travel for work or leisure. Foreign travel emergency care is covered if it begins during the first 60 days of the excursion. After meeting a deductible, the benefit amounts to 80% of the charges invoiced for specific medically necessary emergency care outside the United States. In 2019, the deductible is $250 and the lifetime limit is $50,000.