Find The Best Medigap Plan For You
Need to get on a Medigap plan but don’t know where to start? Use this quick guide to find the best Medigap plan today.
Medical supplemental insurance, often called Medigap, is additional insurance you add onto your existing Medicare plan. It is called Medigap because it covers the “gap” that is often left in most Medicare plan B insurances. All Medigap policies are standardized by the federal government and come in many types and price points. You have at least 10 different options, which makes it difficult to decide what Medigap plan is the best. Here’s a good, first place to start.
Medigap v Medicare Advantage Plans
One of the first confusing aspects of selecting a Medigap plan is to understand what it is, and what it is not. Medigap is not the same thing as Medicare Advantage. Medigap lowers your out-of-pocket costs for your Part A and B in regular Medicare. Medigap is only available for those enrolled in regular Medigap, and not Medicare Advantage. The Advantage plan offered by Medicare includes additional coverages for dental and vision. Both Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans have special enrollment periods, and you must be 65 years of age or older to enroll.
Select from 10 Standardized Medigap Plans
Just as Medicare is divided into parts, often referred to as plans, so too is Medigap. All states except for Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, use the standardized plans offered through the federal government. The difference among the various Medigap plans fall along the lines of coverage for additional hospital costs, care after release from the hospital, or for medical devices. Medigap plans do not kick in until all the coverage is used up from the main Medicare plans you have. An online search tool exists for you to check which Medigap plans are offered in your state.
How does Medigap help?
Medigap insurance is obtained primarily because it lowers or eliminates out of pocket expenses that Medicare Parts A and B do not cover. The traditional Medicare plans require you to pay for any costs remaining after your Medicare plan funds have run out. For example, suppose you went in for hip surgery and ended up having to stay an additional three days. Your Medicare plan only covers two days in the hospital, so your Medigap plan kicks in and covers the rest.
Medigap also helps you when it comes to long term care. If you require longer recovery time, you may be moved to a skilled nursing facility to convalesce. You quickly use up the coverage allowed by Medicare in these instances. Medigap is activated and offers you the ability to stay if is required to recover. This extends to hospice care as well.
While most Medicare plans cover hospice care assistance, most do not offer any type of coverage for skilled nursing facilities. This means you must pay for things yourself, and it can be costly.
Medigap for Retired Travelers
If you love to travel and plan on doing more of it once you are retired, then Medigap can be your best travel companion. Medicare does not cover overseas traveling, so if you become ill while out of the country it can be problematic. Medigap offers several plans that cover travel out of the country. Those plans are: C,D,F,G,M,N, and they cover 80% of your medical expenses outside of the U.S. Within the U.S. Medigap is widely accepted by most medical specialists, healthcare facilities and doctors. The good news is that if the doctor accepts Medicare, then Medigap is automatically accepted.
Special Enrollment Periods for Medigap
Medigap is like Medicare in that you can only enroll or make changes during certain times each year. Both Medicare and Medigap have an open enrollment period between October 15-December 7th. The general enrollment period starts at the first of the year on January 1 and lasts until the end of March on March 31.
What if you turn 65 years of age outside of those enrollment periods? In this instance you are offered a special enrollment opportunity regardless of the date. Additionally, preexisting health conditions are not considered in your application. If you think you might ever need Medigap insurance, it is the best strategy to get it during your initial enrollment. This is because the price goes up if you retroactively purchase Medigap insurance later.
Most Popular Medigap Plans
The most popular Medigap plans include the following:
Plan F: This is the most all-encompassing plan and basically pays everything after Medicare pays out its share. The monthly premium is higher, but you have zero out of pocket expenses or copays.
Plan G: This plan is almost identical to Plan F with the sole distinction that it does not cover the Plan B deductible. Once that is met, then everything is the same as Plan F.
Plan N: This plan has the lowest monthly premiums. While you do pay a co pay, it is small. For example, a doctor’s visit would have a $20 copay.
Best Medigap Insurance Companies
The best Medigap insurance companies all have some commonalities. All have varying levels of coverage to fit every budget, and Medigap plans are customizable. In general, the most popular Medigap Plans are Plans F, G and N. The following companies offer robust Medigap plans in most states: