Medicare Supplement Insurance Policies
Original Medicare pays for many, but not all, health care services and supplies. A Supplement policy, sold by private insurance companies, can help pay some of the health care costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, like co-payments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Some Supplement policies also offer coverage for services that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, such as medical care when you travel outside the U.S. If a Medicare beneficiary has Original Medicare and they buy a Supplement policy, both plans will pay their share of Medicare approved amounts for covered health care costs. Medicare doesn’t pay any of the costs for a Supplement policy. You can get a Medicare supplemental plan only if you have Original Medicare. Supplements cover Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance). It does not cover Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans), Medicare Part D (prescription drug plans) or any other private health insurance (Medicaid, Veterans’ Administration benefits, or TRICARE).
Every Supplement policy must follow Federal and state laws designed to protect the beneficiary and it must be clearly identified as “Medicare Supplement Insurance.” Supplement insurance companies can sell a Medicare beneficiary only a “standardized” Supplement policy identified in most states by letters, (A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, & N with a high deductible option for Plan F. Plans E, H, I and J are no longer available). All plans offer the same basic benefits but some offer additional benefits, so the beneficiary can choose which one meets their needs. Initially, cost is the only difference between Supplement policies sold by different insurance companies. Other differences may include when, how often, and the method in which companies may increase the plan’s rate, as well as other discounts and customer service specific to the individual insurance company.
A Medicare Supplement does not include a Prescription Drug Plan (Part D). So it will be necessary for you to also obtain creditable Prescription Drug coverage.
Open enrollment for Medicare supplemental plans
Your open enrollment for Medigap supplemental insurance begins the first month you are covered under Medicare Part B. You have six months to enroll. There is NO other open enrollment period.
As long as you enroll during this six-month open enrollment period, the insurance company cannot refuse to sell you a Medigap policy, charge you more because you have health problems, or make you wait for coverage to begin. If you do not enroll in a Medicare supplemental plan during your open enrollment period, then the private insurance company may “underwrite” the plan. That means you may be subject to a physical, and the insurance company can either refuse to sell you the plan or they can adjust your premium based on your health status.