A Medicare Supplement (also called "Medigap Insurance") policy is private health insurance specifically designed to
supplement the Original Medicare Plan. This means it helps pay some of the health care costs ("gaps") that the Original
Medicare Plan doesn't cover (like coinsurance and deductibles). If you are in the Original Medicare Plan and you buy a
supplement policy, then both plans will pay their share of the Medicare-approved amount for covered health care costs.
Medicare Supplement policies are sold by private insurance companies.
A supplement policy is not a "Medicare Advantage" (like an HMO or PPO) because it's not a way to get Medicare
benefits. Medicare Supplements are "standardized" by the Federal Government. Standardized supplement policies are
identified by letters (A,B,C,D,F,G,K,L,M & N). In some states, like Texas or Louisiana, you may be able to buy another
type of Medicare Supplement policy called Medicare SELECT. Each type of supplement policy offers the same basic
benefits, no matter which insurance company sells it. Usually the only difference between policies sold by different
insurance companies is the cost. Medicare Supplement policies must follow Federal and state laws. These laws are
designed to protect you.
What Medigap Policies Do Not Cover
In most cases, Medicare Supplement policies do not cover long-term care (like care in a nursing home), vision or dental
care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, and private-duty nursing. Any new supplement policy is guaranteed renewable. This
means the insurance company cannot cancel your policy as long as you pay the premium. Although some policies sold
in the past covered prescription drugs, no new Medicare Supplement policies are allowed to include prescription drug
coverage. If you want prescription drug coverage, you may want to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D)
offered by private companies approved by Medicare.
When is the Best Time to buy a Medicare Supplement?
The best time to buy a supplement policy is during your open enrollment period. This period lasts for 6 months and
begins on the first day of the month in which you are both age 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B. During this
period, an insurance company can't use medical underwriting. This means it can't refuse to sell you any supplement
policy it sells, make you wait for coverage to start, or charge you more for a policy because
of your health problems. If
you buy a supplement policy when you have a guaranteed issue right, the insurance company can't use a pre-existing
condition waiting period at all.
Note: You can send in your application for a Supplement policy before your open enrollment period starts. This may be
important if you currently have coverage that will end when you turn age 65. This will allow you to have continuous
coverage. It is very important to understand your open enrollment period. During this period you can buy any
supplement policy the company sells. If you apply for coverage outside of your open enrollment period, there is no
guarantee that an insurance company will sell you a policy. After your open enrollment period ends, insurance
companies are allowed to use medical underwriting to decide whether to accept your application and how much to
charge you for the policy.
Comparing Medicare Supplement costs
The cost of supplement policies can vary widely. There can be big differences in the premiums that different insurance
companies charge for exactly the same coverage. As you shop for a policy, be sure you are comparing the same type of
What is Medicare SELECT?
There is another type of supplement policy called Medicare SELECT that is sold in some states, including Texas and
Louisiana. Medicare SELECT can be any of the standardized Supplement Plans A through L, however, you must use
specific hospitals and, in some cases, specific doctors to get your full insurance benefits (except in an emergency).
Medicare SELECT policies generally cost less than other Medicare Supplement policies, however, if you don't use a
Medicare SELECT hospital or doctor for non-emergency services, you will have to pay some or all of what Medicare
doesn't pay. Medicare will pay its share of approved charges no matter which hospital or doctor you choose.
What is The Best Way to Find the Correct Medicare Supplement? The best way to find the best policy for your particular
situation is to consult a professional who specializes in Medicare Supplements.
David Hecker is a Licensed Insurance Agent based in Texas. He specializes in Medicare Products. He is licensed in
Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. He can be reached at (903) 918-9091 or Toll Free (877) 454-4959. E-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at: http://www.tx-medicaresupplement.com