Getting the Most Out of Your Medicare Supplement Insurance

By Rebecca - April 04, 2019

Medicare Supplement Insurance, also referred to as Medigap, literally fills the gaps your basic medical insurance doesn’t take care of. Researching various insurance plans can be a daunting task so we’ve done a ton of footwork for you. Here’s what you need to know about your choices: 

What Does It Cover?

Your basic Medicare insurance plan doesn’t cover all your medical expenses, such as copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance. So the supplemental insurance option is appealing for many. Some add-on plans even cover healthcare costs when traveling outside the United States. Up to 80% of qualifying costs due to a medical emergency abroad can be taken care of. You’ll definitely want to consider this type of coverage if you’re an aspiring globetrotter or seasoned snowbird wanting to avoid the worry and financial burden of paying bills from falling ill overseas

Who Does It Cover?

Medicare Supplement Insurance covers one individual, so you’ll need a separate policy for you and your partner. Within three months of age 65, you become eligible to apply for basic healthcare coverage through Medicare, a national program. Most people can access free Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) by that age, given they’ve been employed and have contributed Medicare taxes long enough. The cost of doctors’ services beyond hospitalization, nursing facility care, or hospice stays is then offset by Medicare medical insurance (Part B), available to anyone with Part A coverage. Medical expenses left uncovered by these basic plans (Part A & B) can then be supplemented with Medigap.

How Do You Get It?

Supplement policies are available for purchase from private insurance companies that are specifically licensed in each state. Premium payments are made monthly, on top of payments each month for Part B. Medigap comes with a renewable guarantee, meaning the insurance company can’t cancel your coverage no matter what your health condition is, provided monthly payments are up to date. Make sure to research what your current coverage or retirement package already takes care of, since there are 10 standardized supplement plans to choose from.

What Is Typically Not Covered?

Bear in mind that the following is typically not covered by Medicare Supplement Insurance:

  • private nurse care
  • dental and vision care
  • hearing aids
  • prescription eyeglasses
  • long-term care

As well, prescription drugs are no longer covered as of January 1, 2006. So, if you’re looking to secure a supplement insurance policy now but already take a fair amount of medication, you’ll want to check into the Part D Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.