| Wed, Sep 07, 2011 @ 09:00 AM

Choosing a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan and How to Research Plans in Your Area

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

Medicare Supplement Insurance plans can help pay for some of the costs Original Medicare does not pay.Medicare Supplement Insurance plans (also known as “Medigap”) can help pay some of the costs not paid for by Original Medicare (Parts A and B), including deductibles, copays and coinsurance. Medicare Supplement Insurance plans can also help pay for stays, skilled nursing facility stays and other medical costs.

The Basics of Medicare Supplement Insurance

  • Medicare Supplement Insurance plans are offered by private insurance companies.
  • These plans pay for some or all of the expenses not paid by Original Medicare.
  • For most, ten standard plans are available, labeled “A” through “N,” except in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin, which have their own Medicare Supplement plans.
  • The benefits of Medicare Supplement Insurance plans are standardized by the federal government. Each company offering the plans provides the same benefits, but pricing may vary from company to company.
  • Not all plans are available in all states.
  •  You can keep your plan when you move or travel.
  • Contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for more information.

Dropping and Reapplying for Medicare Supplement Insurance

Many of the benefits paid for by Medicare Supplement Insurance are also covered under Medicare Advantage plans. If you are a Medicare Advantage member, you don’t need—and an agent cannot sell you—a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan. The only exception is if you’re in the process of switching from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare and wish to add a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan to be effective with your coverage under Original Medicare.

There are benefits to applying for a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan during your Initial Open Enrollment Period. Your Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Supplement Insurance begins the first day of the month you are enrolled in Medicare Part B at age 65 or older, and lasts for six months. During this time, a Medicare Supplement insurer can’t refuse to sell you a plan or charge a higher premium due to your medical history or current health. In some states, persons under age 65 who are eligible for Medicare by reason of disability may also enroll within 6 months of their Medicare Part B date.

You also have a right to guaranteed acceptance in certain Medicare Supplement plans if you apply for coverage within 63 days from the date you lose your employer coverage. (Most states also give you this right if you voluntarily drop employer coverage, and a few states allow more than 63 days to apply.)

You can drop a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan and apply for another whenever you like, however each time you apply you are buying a new plan, so you could be charged a higher premium. If you apply outside your Initial Open Enrollment Period (for most people, this is the 6 month window after you’re enrolled in Part B), your current health or health history may be considered in your application review.

Finding the Right Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan

To find a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan available in your area, use the Medigap Policy Search tool available on the Medicare.gov plan finder page. The results include plans and pricing available in your region.

For more information contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. You can also contact UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Made Clear to learn more 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

Resources:

Medigap Plans – MedicareMadeClear.com

Choosing a Medigap Policy – Medicare.gov

The Medigap Policy Search Tool – Medicare.gov

Y0066_110804_111824 File & Use 08212011

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