For the most part, Medicare health coverage is sufficient. While this is true, it doesn’t cover everything.
If you have chosen the Original Medicare plan, instead of the Medicare Advantage plan, then you have the ability to fill in some of the coverage gaps if you buy a private Medicare supplement insurance plan, which is also referred to as the Medigap plan.
The question is, how do you find the best Medicare supplement plan? This is a good question and some things to consider to make an informed decision about this can be found here.
Get to Know All Your Options
A great thing about Medicare supplement plans is that they have all been standardized. This means they can be used anywhere there is a provider who accepts Medicare payments.
Right now, there are a total of 10 plans available for purchase. They have been labeled with letters that start at A and go to N. Since all the plans have been standardized, Plan A coming from Company X will be the same as Plan A that comes from Company Y. This makes it much easier to shop. All you have to do is to look at the prices and find a private insurance provider that you trust. You don’t have to create a spreadsheet for comparing copays, networks, or deductibles.
The biggest decision you will have to make is selecting the right plan. While each of the plans offers some basic benefits, there are some that offer other benefits. There is a chart you can use on Medicare.gov to help you understand this.
If you reside in Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Massachusetts, the options you have are going to be different. Be sure to use the chart mentioned above to learn about the plans in your state.
It’s also important for you to see that Medigap Plans C and F aren’t offered to new enrollees.
Understand Policy Pricing
After you have figured out what plan you want to use, you can start to shop around. This is another situation where the plan standardization comes in. Because of this, the cost of the plans is probably going to be the top consideration and factor that you think about.
While this is true, it doesn’t mean you should automatically choose the plan that offers you the lowest cost. This may be the one that is going to see the rates go up the fastest as time goes by. That’s because all Medicare supplement plans have premiums that will be calculated in one of the three following ways:
- Attained-age rated
- Issue-age rated
You can find a breakdown of all these differences on the Medicare.gov website. Make sure to weigh them before selecting a plan.
Contact a Broker for Help
You should never be afraid to contact an insurance broker for assistance. Based on the law, brokers are not allowed to charge a commission. This means you are going to pay the same premium, regardless of if you purchase the policy using an agent or if you buy direct from an insurance brokerage.
A quality and experienced agent can help you sort through all the plans and determine which one will best suit your needs and lifestyle. However, it is a good idea to search for an independent broker who works for several companies instead of someone that is only associated with a specific insurer.
Referred to as a “captive agent,” a person working for one company may be beneficial and objective; however, you are going to have more options when you use someone who is independent.
Once you reach the age of 65, you have will have a period of seven months to enroll. This initial enrollment period includes the 90 days before your birthday month, your actual birthday month, and the 90 days after your birthday month. If you choose to enroll in the Original Medicare plan, rather than Medicare Advantage, this is when you will purchase the Medicare supplement policy, as well.
Once the initial enrollment period is over, you can still purchase a supplement plan, but this is when insurers are going to begin asking questions about your health. This means it is best to enroll as soon as your enrollment period begins.