As you near retirement, there’s so much to look forward to. You’ve probably thought about spending time with loved ones, taking some trips, and not having to get up at the crack of dawn every morning. What you might not have thought about is signing up for Medicare and getting your Medicare supplement plans in place.
If time is running short, don’t panic. It’s not too late to get signed up for Medicare, but it’s important to know that Medicare supplement plans have to be in place by the time you turn 65. If you’re on the fence about whether you need a supplement plan, consider these nine reasons you should look into them.
9 Reason to Consider Supplement Plans
Medicare Is Expensive
If you’ve been on your employer’s insurance for years, you might experience some sticker shock at the annual deductibles and copayments that Part A and Part B Medicare come with. Medicare Part A covers hospital stays and generally has no premiums if you’ve been paying into the system for long enough. If you have Part B Medicare, which covers doctor visits and preventative screens, vaccinations, and any medical equipment you might need, you’ll also be paying a monthly premium, an annual deductible, and some amount of copay.
While it’s true that Medicare supplement plans themselves cost money, they can offer you huge savings to cover these gaps in your Medicare coverage. Medicare supplement covers things like copayment, coinsurance, and deductibles.
You’ll Get Coverage Outside the US
Medicare doesn’t cover you if you’re going on vacation abroad or are visiting family in another country. If you’re planning on taking that trip to Europe you’ve always dreamed of, finding out that you don’t have healthcare coverage can make you re-think everything.
With a Medicare supplement plan, you don’t have this concern. Most plans will cover you nearly anywhere you want to travel up to 80% of your expenses.
Choose Your Doctor
Your Medicare supplement won’t restrict your choice of healthcare professional any more than Medicare does. Most Medicare supplement plans will cover your visit to any doctor or healthcare provider who accepts Medicare. You can also visit any practice or hospital that participates in Medicare. The only exception is if you choose a Medicare SELECT plan. In that case, be sure to find out about any network provider rules.
You Have to Be Accepted
As with Medicare itself, you can’t be rejected for a Medicare supplement plan just because you have health problems. You also can’t be charged more for bringing a pre-existing condition to the plan. So long as you line up your options on time, however, you have nothing to worry about.
The one caveat to watch out for is in regard to the open enrollment period. Open enrollment starts six months before you turn 65, and once you have Medicare Part B in place. This is the right time to apply for a Medicare supplement. If you apply outside this period, insurers can reject you based on your health history, or they may charge you more. That’s why it’s important to explore your options now and not wait until the open enrollment period has closed.
Other Guaranteed Acceptance Rights
It’s also worth knowing that if you’re losing some other part of Medicare coverage, for whatever reason, you can then get supplemental coverage without restrictions, just as if you were in the open enrollment period.
You Can’t Be Denied Renewal
As long as you’ve been making your payments, insurance companies have to renew your policy. In fact, your policy will renew automatically every year unless you decide you want a different one.
You’re In Charge
You have a lot of flexibility when it comes to Medicare supplement plans. There are 10 standard plans to choose from, with variations in premium costs and coverage. As with all insurance, the higher the monthly premium, the more coverage you get.
There are also various options available to you. You can add a Medicare prescription drug coverage supplement to your overall supplement if you like. There are many stand-alone plans to choose from.
Plans Are Standardized
One of the best things about Medicare supplement plans is they are standardized across nearly all of the United States. The 10 plans are all regulated, so it doesn’t matter which insurer you choose or where you live. You’ll get the same benefits and coverage with the same plans. When you’re considering costs, this is important to know.
The only caveat here is if you live in Minnesota, Massachusetts, or Wisconsin. These three states have slightly different standardizations, so be sure to check with your plan provider about your options if you live in these states or plan to move there.
Take Your Plan With You
Speaking of moving, if you move within the United States, you can almost always take your Medicare supplement plan with you. If you’re moving to or from Minnesota, Massachusetts, or Wisconsin, it pays to check; but otherwise, you won’t have any problems.
A Free Trial Period
When you buy a mattress these days, you get to try it for a few nights before you decide if it’s right for you. Why shouldn’t it be the same with an insurance policy? With Medicare supplemental plans, you often have this opportunity.
If you want to switch from one policy to another, don’t end your first policy right away. With your second policy, you can sometimes get 30 days from the time coverage begins to decide whether you want to continue or switch back to your old plan.
Know Your Terms
One of the reasons Medicare is confusing is that people refer to the different plans and coverages by various names. Medicare Part A and Part B are often referred to as Original Medicare.
Medicare Supplement plans go by a variety of names, including Medicare supplement insurance, Medigap, Medigap plans, and Medigap policies. These are all referring to the same thing. There are 10 types of Medicare plans, each labeled with a letter from A to N (though do note that there is no Plan E, H, I, or K in that list).
Tips for Choosing the Right Medicare Supplement Plans
Medicare Part A and Part B are fairly clear and straightforward. Once you start talking about Medicare supplement plans, though, you may find yourself in the weeds fairly quickly.
If you’re choosing a supplemental plan, the best plans for those on a strict budget are Plan K, and Plan L. Plan K will pay half of your Medicare A deductible and half of your skilled nursing coinsurance costs. Plan L is similar and will pay 75% of your deductible and skilled nursing coinsurance.
With both plans, you share the cost of your deductible up to the limit. Beyond this limit, the plans pay for everything that’s covered. These are good options if you want lower monthly premiums and a bit of help with cost-sharing. If you need more comprehensive hospital coverage, though, you should look elsewhere.
If you’re looking for a good balance between coverage and cost, then Plans M, D, and N are the ones to look at.
This is a great plan if you want to have robust coverage for emergencies, but don’t think you’ll constantly be at the doctor’s office. If you need regular outpatient services, this isn’t the best plan for you.
This is similar to Plan D, but it doesn’t pay as much of your Part A deductible. As with Plan D, this might not be a good choice if you know you’ll need to visit the doctor regularly. This plan’s costs reset every year, and this is a popular middle-of-the-road choice.
Plan N offers low monthly premiums and a bit of cost-sharing to ease the burden on your wallet. Of the three middle choices, this is usually the best for those who want a bit more coverage and the lowest premiums possible.
If your concern is to get comprehensive coverage, then plans C, F, and G are your best choices. In fact, Medicare Plan F is the most popular of the supplemental plans.
Plan C covers everything that Plans A and B miss except any Plan B excess charges. You get excess charges with Plan B when you visit healthcare providers that don’t participate in Medicare, so if you have a favorite doctor or hospital that doesn’t participate in Medicare, you might want a different plan.
This plan covers 100% of your Part A and B deductibles, 100% of the Part B excess, 100% of your skilled nursing coinsurance, and some coverage of emergency if you’re traveling abroad. Plan F also offers you the choice of a high-deductible plan, which gives you lower monthly premiums than the regular Plan F. If you need plenty of coverage but have a good nest egg to draw on for deductible, this is the plan for you.
This plan covers absolutely everything except your Part B deductible, which is less than $200 a year, and 20% of your foreign emergency travel coverage. Premiums are high, but coverage is excellent.
Choose the Right Plan for You
Choosing your Medicare plan can be challenging, and especially if you don’t have much time left in open enrollment. To find the right plan for you, and avoid any penalties, visit the Senior Solutions Group today. We can help you understand your options and find a plan that fits your needs and budget.