How Do I Find the Best Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan?
When deciding what may be the best Medicare Supplement insurance plan for you, first understand which type of Medicare health insurance you already have. This will help determine if you may be eligible for a Medicare Supplement insurance plan.
There are generally two ways to receive hospital and medical health care coverage through Medicare. The first is through “Original Medicare,“ which includes Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance.) The second is through Medicare Advantage (Part C). Medicare Advantage plans include Original Medicare’s hospital and medical insurance, but you get these benefits through a private, Medicare-approved insurance company instead of directly through the government. The exception is hospice care, which is still covered under Medicare Part A even when you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. You may only use Medicare Supplement insurance plans with Original Medicare. In fact, it’s illegal for an insurance agent to sell you a Medicare Supplement insurance plan unless the agent knows your Medicare Advantage plan will be ending. If you would prefer to have Medicare Part A and Part B and a Medicare Supplement insurance plan over Medicare Advantage, you can cancel your Medicare Advantage plan but only at certain times of the year.
How can I find the best Medicare Supplement insurance plan for me?
If you’re wondering “What’s the best Medicare Supplement insurance plan?”- first be aware that there is no “best” plan for everyone. To find a plan that may work for your needs, consider what type of benefits the various plans cover.
Up to 10 Medicare Supplement insurance plans are sold in most states. The plans are standardized, and plan names are labeled A, B, C*, D, F*, G, K, L, M and N. (Medicare Supplement insurance Plans A and B should not be confused with Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.) All plans, A-N, cover Medicare Part A hospital coinsurance (up to an additional 365 days after Medicare benefits are used) at 100%. Beyond hospital coinsurance, the plans begin to vary. All plans A-N cover Medicare Part B coinsurance, the first 3 pints of blood for a medical procedure, and Part A hospice care coinsurance at least 50%. Plan K covers them at 50%; Plan L covers them at 75% and Plans A, B, C*, D, F*, G, M and N cover them at 100%. Please note that Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Minnesota have their own standardized plans.
Other benefits that some Medicare Supplement insurance plans may cover are:
- Skilled nursing facility care coinsurance
- Part A deductible
- Part B deductible*
- Part B excess charges
- Foreign travel emergencies
Plan F* is also offered as a high-deductible plan by some insurance companies. This means that you must pay the deductible amount of $2,300 in 2019 before the Medicare Supplement insurance plan pays anything.
*Medicare Supplement plans that may cover the Medicare Part B deductible are being phased out. That includes Plan C, Plan F, and high-deductible Plan F. You can keep these plans if you have them now. You can even apply for one of these plans if you’re eligible for Medicare by December 31, 2019. But if you’re not eligible for Medicare until January 1, 2020 or later, you won’t be able to buy Plan C or Plan F.
You might be able to buy a high-deductible Medicare Supplement Plan G in 2020, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans.
In some states, another kind of Medicare Supplement insurance plan called Medicare SELECT may be offered. With Medicare SELECT, you will have to use hospitals and doctors within the network to be eligible for full benefits. Medicare SELECT plans may cost less than other Medicare Supplement insurance plans.
The next factor in determining the best Medicare Supplement insurance plan for you is cost. Keep in mind that different insurance companies may charge different premiums for the same policy. Medicare Supplement insurance plans are rated or priced in 3 ways.
- The first way, “community-rated,” does not depend on age. People of different ages and gender pay the same premium. Premiums may go up because of inflation and other factors but not because of your age.
- The second way, “issue-age-rated,” sets the rate depending on the age of the person when he or she purchases the policy. Premiums may go up because of inflation and other factors but not because of your age.
- The third way, “attained-age-rated,” sets a premium at your current age and continues to go up as you get older. Premiums may also go up because of inflation and other factors.
Other factors may influence the price of the policy, such as if the health insurance company offers discounts to non-smokers or married people and if it uses medical underwriting. Medical underwriting could use a pre-existing health condition as a basis for charging a higher premium.
Once you understand your eligibility, what benefits you want covered, and pricing differences, you will be able to determine what the best Medicare Supplement insurance plan is for you.
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