Medicare Supplement Health Plans

2014 Medicare and Medigap Updates

Medicare Supplement Health Plans

Medicare supplement health plans are also known as Medigap plans. These are plans that are designed to fill in some of the gaps left by original Medicare. The gaps left by Medicare typically result because Medicare does not cover certain types of medical costs such as most dental care including dentures, eye care including eye glasses, hearing exams as well as hearing aids, most ambulance costs, long term care and medical costs incurred abroad.

Medicare supplement health plans are also useful as they help pay for the deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance that Medicare does not cover. Medicare will typically cover only 80% of the medical costs while the beneficiary is supposed to pay for the rest.

Medicare, through CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid) has licensed private insurance companies to offer these Medicare supplement health plans. These health plans have been standardized so that they offer the same benefits irrespective of the private insurance company selling the plans. This simply means that any plan being sold by insurance company A will offer identical benefits as offered by insurance company B though the premiums may be different.

Medicare supplement health plans are numbered alphabetically from A to N. However, there are only 10 plans currently available today. The most basic plan is plan A and all the other plans incorporate the benefits offered under plan A. All private insurance companies licensed to sell Medigap plans are required to offer Plan A at a minimum. If they offer another plan, they are supposed to offer plan C or F. They are however at liberty to offer any other plans they would like to subject to state laws.

All Medicare beneficiaries are entitled to signing up for one of the Medicare supplement health plans. However, it is a very good idea for these beneficiaries to enroll for one of these plans during the open enrollment period, which is a 6 month period. During the open enrollment period, the private insurance companies are bound by law to sell any policy a Medicare beneficiary wants even if he has a pre-existing medical condition. The insurance companies are also not allowed to charge a higher premium. After the open enrollment period, the private insurance companies can use medical underwriting. They can also limit the options open to a person with a pre-existing medical condition.

Even though the Medicare supplement health plans are supposed to help fill in most of the gaps left by original Medicare, they too do not cover certain costs such as private nursing care, long term nursing care, eyeglasses and vision care, hearing aids and so on.

Choosing between the different Medicare supplement health plans can be a bit confusing. You should first try and determine what your medical needs are likely to be. It is also a good idea to consult an insurance broker about which plan will best suit your needs.