While Medicare is a very helpful program for many South Dakotans, it is certainly not simple. With all the various parts, programs and letters, it’s easy to get confused when reviewing Medicare plans. With the addition of supplemental plans, many are quick to get lost. This article is intended to help avoid that. Let’s see if we can make comparing and choosing Medicare supplemental plans a bit easier.
How Does Medicare Work?
Medicare is federally funded health insurance, open to anyone 65 or older. To allow aging Americans to receive the care they need as they exit the workforce, the government provides free and low-cost health coverage. To do so in a way that is cost-effective, efficient, and worthwhile for private insurance companies, Medicare is broken up into a few major parts, or plans, which cover different aspects of health care. However, these parts don’t cover all possible costs associated with all possible care. That is why Medicare supplemental coverage, which is also known as Medigap coverage, can be used to fill in the gaps.
Basic Medicare Coverage
Original Medicare (the basic, required part of any Medicare plan) includes Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). As you may already know, those two parts refer to costs incurred from care in a hospital and costs incurred from private physicians. Together they make up a large part of what individuals customarily need from health insurance, which is why they are the basis of Medicare plans.
As a substitute for Original Medicare, you may also obtain a Medicare Advantage Plan. Medicare Advantage Plans (which are sometimes referred to as Medicare Part C) are bundles of Medicare plans offered by authorized private companies. Additionally, there is a separate Medicare plan for prescription drugs (Medicare Part D) which is not a part of Original Medicare, but is also not considered a supplemental plan.
How to Choose a Medicare Supplemental Plan
There are supplemental plans for aspects of medical care that aren’t completely covered by Medicare Parts A and B. While some individuals may receive supplemental coverage from an employer or other source, others must decide what they need before purchasing their own supplemental coverage.
Three Steps to Choose a Medicare Supplemental Plan
- First, you must enroll in Medicare Parts A and B.
- Next, review the supplemental coverage options in comparison with the coverage you already have. You can use this chart to compare side by side what each supplemental plan has to offer.
- Once you settle on a plan, contact a few local insurers who offer the plan. The coverage in each supplemental plan is the same no matter where you purchase it, though insurance companies may differ in what they charge.
Helpful Things to Remember When Choosing a Medigap Plan
- Medigap policies are different from Medicare Advantage Plans. Advantage plans can provide you with bundled benefit options in place of Original Medicare, while Medigap supplemental policies add more cost coverage to your existing Original Medicare plan.
- You pay a private insurance company a monthly premium for Medigap policies. This may be in addition to a monthly Part B premium you pay to Medicare.
- Medigap policies may not be sold with drug coverage.
- Medigap doesn’t cover everything, such as hearing aids, vision, dental, eyeglasses and private nursing.
Need Help Choosing a Medicare Supplemental Policy?
Even after reading this, we know Medicare can be challenging. That’s why the McKinneyOlson Insurance team is here to help. If you live in Sioux Falls, SD or the surrounding area, we are standing by to explain your Medigap policy options. Contact us today and one of our experienced brokers will help find the plan or package which suits you best!