Can I use my Medicare Supplement to pay my Medicare Part B premium?

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Medicare includes Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). Most people don’t pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part A, but do pay a Medicare Part B premium. If you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working for at least 10 years, you don’t pay a Part A premium.

What is Medicare Supplement?

A Medicare Supplement plan, sold by private companies, can help pay some of the out-of-pocket health-care costs that Medicare Part A and Part B don’t pay, such as coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles. Some Medicare Supplement plans also cover medical care outside of the U.S. However, a Medicare Supplement policy cannot be used to pay another plan’s premium, or to pay your Medicare Part A or Part B premium(s).

Similarly, Medicare doesn’t pay for a Medicare Supplement policy. If you have a Medicare Supplement policy, you will need to pay the private insurance company for your Medicare Supplement premium as well as pay Medicare for your monthly Part B premium. If you receive Social Security benefits, in most cases your Part B premium is automatically deducted from your benefit payment.

What do Medicare Supplement plans cover?

Certain Medicare Supplement plans may help pay deductible and coinsurance costs for Medicare Part A and Part B. The Part A inpatient deductible is $1,316 in 2017 for each benefit period. Part A coinsurance for hospital stays ranges from $0 per day for the first 60 days, to $329 per day (after 60 days), to $658 per day (after 90 days) in 2017. The Part B yearly deductible is $183 in 2017. Medicare Supplement plans may help cover these costs.

All Medicare Supplement plans (lettered A-N) pay 100% of Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to an additional 365 days after Original Medicare benefits are exhausted. All Medicare Supplement plans (A-N) pay some portion of Medicare Part B coinsurance or copayment (as low as 50% and as high as 100%). Other services that Medicare Supplement plans may cover (at different levels depending on the plan) are:

  • First three pints of blood needed for a medical procedure
  • Skilled nursing facility coinsurance
  • Medicare Part A hospice care copayment

Some, but not all, Medicare Supplement plans may pay for the Part A deductible, the Part B deductible, Part B excess charges, and foreign travel emergencies.

In addition to not covering premiums, Medicare Supplement policies generally don’t cover a number of other services including long-term care, routine vision or dental care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, or private-duty nursing. However, some Medicare Supplement plans may include additional benefits.

Keep in mind that Medicare Supplement plans only work with Medicare. You can’t use a Medicare Supplement plan to pay for Medicare Advantage costs.

Types of coverage that are not Medicare Supplement policies include: TRICARE, veterans’ benefits, long-term care insurance policies, Medicare Advantage plans and stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans.

How can I get help paying for my Part B premium?

Although a Medicare Supplement plan can’t help pay your Medicare Plan B premium, there may be other programs that can help to pay your health insurance costs. Medicaid may help with medical costs for people with limited incomes and resources. In many cases, if you have Medicaid, you might be automatically enrolled in a Medicare Savings Program (MSP). The MSP can pay the Part B premium.

For more information about help with Part B premium payments, contact your state’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).

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