Medicare Supplement plans (also known as Medigap insurance) are health insurance plans designed to fill in the “gaps” in Medicare. They pay the 20% that is not covered at the doctor and hospital, and in most cases, also pay the Part A and Part B deductibles.
Because they limit your exposure to the potential of high out-of-pocket health care costs, they are an essential part of any secure financial plan for someone on Medicare. Since the plans are Federally-standardized, it is important to know and understand what each plan covers so that you can compare companies and rates. The Federal Medigap standardized plans chart, which compares what each plan covers, is below (this chart recently changed – for effective dates after June 1, 2010): Medicare Supplement modernized plan chart
Are You Turning 65 or Going on Medicare for the First Time?
When you are first going on Medicare, you get inundated with enormous amounts of information – through the mail, on the phone, by email – everyone wants to be your friend when you turn 65! While there is some good information out there, it is easy to allow the clutter to overwhelm you or “turn you off” to the process. [Here is our one-page turning 65 checklist]
Sorting through the supplement plans is actually not as difficult as you may think, however. With the standardization of plan coverage, as well as the fact that all plans can be used at any doctor that takes Medicare nationwide, and all claims are paid through the standardized Medicare “crossover” system, there are not that many variables to consider when comparing companies.
The main things that you should compare are Medicare Supplement rates and company ratings. You can do these one of two ways – you can either call the companies themselves to obtain the rates (or more likely set meetings to get the rates – which some companies require) or you can obtain them in a centralized place through a broker. Whether it is us or someone else, we would certainly recommend comparing rates via a broker/agency. By doing so, you can get a centralized comparison of plan options in an unbiased way at no cost or obligation. Either way you do it, the most important thing to do is base your decision on the two factors that vary – monthly premium and company rating.
What Are Medicare Parts A & B and What Do They Cover?
It can be confusing, and often, overwhelming to understand Medicare. You hear all the talk about “parts” and “plans” and wonder what exactly all the terms mean.
First, what are Medicare Parts A & B? It is a Federal program that covers individuals who are defined as disabled (disability) or over age 65. To qualify, you must have worked in the United States for 40 quarters (10 years). You receive Medicare Part A based on your participation in social security deductions from paychecks, etc. Part B is an optional part of the program that most people also elect to take if Medicare or Medicare + Medicare Supplement is their only health coverage. Part B, as you will see below, is the “doctor’s services” part of the Government program.
Before you do a Medigap comparison, you should know what Medicare Parts A & B cover. The following is a breakdown of what each of the parts of “original” Medicare (Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B) covers:
Medicare Part A
- Inpatient hospital care. Part A covers up to 90 days per benefit period and 60 lifetime reserve days.
- Skilled nursing facility care. Part A covers up to 100 days each benefit period. You must have been in the hospital at least three consecutive days within 30 days prior to admission.
- Hospice care. To qualify, a doctor must certify that you are terminally ill.
- Home health care. Part A covers this for up to 100 days. You must have been in the hospital for three days in the 14 days prior to receiving care and being homebound.
Medicare Part B
- Doctor’s services.
- Some preventive care services.
- Durable Medical Equipment.
- Ambulance services. For emergency transportation.
- Outpatient physical, speech and occupational therapy services.
- The first three pints of blood you need every year.
- X-rays and lab tests.
- Home health services.
What Do Medicare Supplement Plans Cover?
Medicare Supplement plans are designed to go with Medicare – they fill in the “gaps” in the Federal program.
Medigap supplements can reduce, or in most cases, eliminate completely, your out-of-pocket medical costs. Many seniors who are on a “fixed income” appreciate this about Medicare Supplement plans.
Comparing Medigap plans is easy to do since plans are standardized. Here are a few of the things included in the specific Medicare Supplement insurance plans coverage (see the chart above to see specifics about what each standardized plan covers):
- The 20% at the doctor and hospital that Medicare does NOT cover
- The Part A deductible ($1132 per benefit period in 2011)
- The Part B deductible ($162 per year in 2011)
- The skilled nursing facility 20% coinsurance that Medicare does not cover
- At Home Recovery
- Part B Excess Charges – charges that doctors may charge in addition to the Medicare-approved amount
- Preventive Care
- Foreign Travel emergencies
Why Should I Compare Medicare Supplement plans and rates?
Comparing Medicare Supplement plans is important because the coverage on these plans are the same from company to company; the premium rates are the only things that vary.
In some cases, people just go with the first Medigap they look at or one that they have heard of, without doing a comparison of their options. It is okay if you want to do it that way – it is, obviously, your choice. However, in many cases, NOT doing a Medicare supplement comparison can lead to simply throwing your money away. In many cases, you can get the equal coverage from an equal company for as much as $100/month difference. In some states the rates vary by even greater amounts than that.
TOP FIVE REASONS TO COMPARE MEDICARE SUPPLEMENT PLANS:
- Medigap plans can reduce, or in most cases, eliminate completely, your out-of-pocket medical costs.
- Companies are required to offer standardized coverage but are at liberty to set their own prices. So, premiums vary greatly.
- They can give you a set figure for “health care expenses” to plug into your monthly budget, regardless of what happens with your health. In other words, they limit your exposure to catastrophic and rising helath care costs.
- It is extremely easy to do. Since the plans were standardized in 1992, comparing them has been easier than comparing any other type of insurance.
- The other reason to compare supplement plans for your age and zip code is, simply, rates change. As you probably know if you have been on Medicare, Supplement rates change from time to time. Because of that, it is always important to know the marketplace and get Medigap quotes and comparisons to make sure you are paying the best possible available rate.
How Do I Get Medicare Supplement Plan Quotes?
In year’s past, you may have had to call each individual company, listen to their sales pitch and and try to make sense of which plan would be best. Besides being time consuming, it could be very frustrating to do the comparison this way.
Now, with Medicare-Supplement-Comparison, you can get this information from an independent, unbiased brokerage that specializes in the Medicare Supplement marketplace. We know the rates and companies inside-out, and we can provide quick Medicare Supplement quotes that are guaranteed to help you compare and find the best rates on Medicare Supplement plans.
Compare Medicare Supplements…
AARP Medicare Supplements
Mutual of Omaha
Gerber Medicare Supplements
Forethought Medicare Supplements
Sentinel Security Medicare Supplements
Family Life Medicare Supplements
New Era Medicare Supplements
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Aetna (American Continental / Continental Life)
Standard Life & Accident
And many more
Get Medigap Quotes Online
What Are Part B Excess Charges?
Do Medicare Supplements Cover Medical Expenses Overseas?
Turning 65 / Going on Medicare
Losing / Terminating Employer (or Group) Coverage
Losing or Leaving a Medicare Advantage Plan
Moving from One State to Another State
Medigap Comparison to Save Money on an Existing Plan
Overwhelmed with Information – Don’t Know Where to Begin
Spouses Comparing Medicare Supplements at the Same Time
Doing an Annual End-of-Year Comparison
Just “Shopping” Rates
Have Had “Original” Medicare; Want to Compare Medicare Supplements
Comparing Plans for a Possible Move
Want to See a Medicare Supplement Comparison Chart for My Zip Code
Want to Compare Quotes to Possibly Upgrade to a Higher Level Medicare Supplement Plan
Concerned About the Effects of Health Care Reform on Medicare
I Know What I Want Already – Can Medicare-Supplement-Comparison.com Help Me Get It?
How Do I Cancel My Existing Medigap Coverage?
COMPARING MEDICARE SUPPLEMENT QUOTES
Comparing Medicare Supplement quotes is essential and easy to do. Regardless of where you live in the United States, Medigap plans (same things as Medicare Supplements) are Federally-standardized. That is, each company is required to offer the same, exact coverage plans.Additionally, claim payment and doctor acceptance are the same from company to company.
With that in mind, premium rates for Medigap plans are the primary comparison points. Finding a company with the lowest rates for a specific plan is the most important thing. So, how do you do that?
Medicare-Supplement-Comparison has made comparing these plans for your age and zip code easier than ever. Unlike the “quote farm” websites out there that promise you the ability to let 7-10 brokers “compete for your business”, Medicare-Supplement-Comparison is a one-stop source to compare rates and quotes on all of the plans in your specific area.
We are a leading, independent brokerage that works with all Medigap companies, compiling customized rate quote comparisons that allow you to choose the plan that is the best fit for your specific needs.