Medicare Supplements, such as Medigap, can help bridge the gap of what’s covered by your plan.. For example, original Medicare usually covered 80 percent of the cost of medical services, leaving beneficiaries to pay 20 percent out of pocket. 

How do I know if I need Medigap Coverage?

Since Original Medicare Plans leave that 20 percent for you to cover, your medical needs will determine whether or not you need Medigap. If you have a higher risk for heart attacks, pneumonia, surgery, or medical condition that requires expensive treatment, you may want a Medicare Supplement Plan. Of course, if you have one of these risk factors, it may be harder to buy a plan from an insurance company.

If you want peace of mind about your medical expenses, a Medigap plan can help you rest easy. At the very least, a Medicare supplement plan will help pay a portion of the 20 percent not covered by Part A or Part B.

What are the other benefits of Medigap Plans?

A supplement plan can apply to certain holes in your Medicare coverage, especially important ones. If you need extended hospital care, a Medigap plan can help you get the care you need.

Nursing and Hospice Care

Certain Medigap plans may be able to help cover nursing home care. However, this does not cover long-term assisted living, personal care, or Alzheimer’s care. They can provide temporary nursing home care coverage payments, but once again not in the long term. Supplemental plans can also provide assistance with hospice coverage.

Travel Insurance

If you plan on frequently travelling out of the United States during your retirement, look for a Medigap plan that covers travel insurance. Usually, Original Medicare does not cover or provides limited coverage outside of the United States. 

If you buy a Medigap plan, it can specifically cover foreign travel emergencies and help pay medical emergencies. The stipulation of payment for travel emergencies is that the plan will only pay if it occurs in the first 60 days of your trip. For medically necessary emergencies, your plan will pay for 80 percent of billed charges, but only after you meet a $250 yearly deductible.

Renewal

One of the best benefits of Medigap policies is renewal. If you buy a standardized Medigap insurance plan, it is guaranteed that you can renew it as long as you pay the premium. This means that the insurance company cannot cancel your policy. You decide how long you keep your policy.

How do I sign up for a Medicare Supplement Plan?

Medicare supplement insurance plans are sold by insurance companies licensed to sell them. A private insurance company that sells Medigap coverage can usually use medical underwriting to decide if they will accept your application.

If you’re looking at Medicare supplemental plans, know that the best time to buy one is during open enrollment periods. Because beneficiaries age into Medicare, open enrollment starts the first month after you turn 65. 

The open enrollment period lasts for six months. Outside of that time period, you may be able to buy a policy, but there is no guarantee. Usually, any plans available after the open enrollment will cost more.

Also, you should not worry if you get sick during your open enrollment period. Insurance companies will usually sell you a plan for the same price as if you were still healthy.

What do I need to buy a Medigap Policy?

Before you buy a Medigap plan, you must have both Medicare Part A and Part B. Medigap plans only cover one person, so spouses must purchase separate plans. Once purchased, you pay the insurance company a monthly premium as well as the monthly premium for Part B.

It’s important to know that you usually cannot sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan and a Medigap plan at the same time. 

What if I need Prescription Drug Coverage?

You may wonder about getting a Medigap prescription drug plan, unfortunately they are no longer available. Medicare supplements sold before 2006 sometimes covered prescription drugs. Since 2006 though, Medigap policies could not cover prescription drugs.

If you need coverage for your prescriptions, you can sign up for a Part D Medicare prescription drug plan. Be aware that you will need to pay a premium for Part D coverage.

What If I need help Buying a Plan?

With plenty of plans to choose from, it’s hard to always know what’s best for you, especially since plans change every year! That’s where we come in. 

At Buffalo Health Advisors you can find someone to talk to about all your options. Our professional health advisors will help you compare Medicare plans and Medigap plans at no cost to you.

We know that Medicare and Medigap can be confusing, and that’s why we’re here. When you step into our office we take time to get to know you and your needs. We help you understand your options and compare plans before you decide. We want to make sure you get the coverage that works right for you.

When we work with people, they often worry that insurance companies don’t have the plan that they need. The reality is that these private companies have many options, but it comes down to whether or not you’re asking the right questions. 

We work independently from insurance companies and we know how to ask those questions from our many years of experience.

Learn more about medicare supplemental benefits here. Or set up an appointment or give us a call today and we’ll walk you through it.

A graph showing the different types of medical services covered by different types of Medicare plans.

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