Can I Use My Medicare Supplement to Pay My Medicare Part B Premium?
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 insurance 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 insurance plans may also help with costs of emergency medical care outside of the U.S. However, a Medicare Supplement insurance plan 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 insurance plan. If you have a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, 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 basic benefits do Medicare Supplement insurance plans have?
Certain Medicare Supplement insurance plans may help pay deductible and coinsurance costs for Medicare Part A and Part B. The Part A inpatient deductible is $1,408 in 2020 for each benefit period. Part A coinsurance for hospital stays ranges from $0 per day for the first 60 days, to $352 per day (after 60 days), to $704 per day (after 90 days) in 2020. The Part B yearly deductible is $198 in 2020. Medicare Supplement insurance plans may help pay these costs. See below for change in store for some Medicare Supplement insurance.
All the standardized Medicare Supplement insurance plans available in most states (lettered A-N) may pay 100% of Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to an additional 365 days after Original Medicare benefits are exhausted. These standardized Medicare Supplement insurance plans also pay some portion of Medicare Part B coinsurance or copayment (as low as 50% and as high as 100%). Other Medicare Supplement insurance plan basic benefits may include (at different levels depending on the plan):
- 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 insurance plans may pay for the Part A deductible, the Part B deductible, Part B excess charges, and foreign travel emergencies (80% up to plan limits).
In addition to not paying Part A and Part B premiums, Medicare Supplement basic benefits generally don’t include 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 insurance plans may include additional benefits.
What else should I know about Medicare Supplement insurance plans?
- Medicare Supplement plans that may cover the Medicare Part B deductible are being phased out. This affects Medicare Supplement Plans C and F (and high-deductible Plan F). If you’re already eligible for Medicare on December 31, 2019 or earlier, you can keep your Plan C or Plan F, or apply for the plan. But if you qualify for Medicare on or after January 1, 2020, you won’t be able to buy Plan C or Plan F. However, Plan G is very similar to Plan F. In 2020, a high-deductible Plan G will be available, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans (ahip.org). Plan G doesn’t cover the Medicare Part B deductible.
- Keep in mind that Medicare Supplement insurance plans only work with Medicare Part A and Part B. You can’t use a Medicare Supplement insurance plan to pay for Medicare Advantage costs.
- Types of coverage that are not Medicare Supplement insurance plans 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 Medicare Part B premium?
Although a Medicare Supplement insurance plan can’t help pay your Medicare Part 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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