Medicare Supplement insurance plan helps cover the gaps in coverage that are left unpaid after traditional Medicare pays its portion of your health care expenses. For this reason, these plans are often referred to as Medigap plans. In order to purchase a Medicare supplement policy you must be enrolled already in Medicare Part A and Part B.
There are ten types of Medigap plans, each plan comes with its own set of benefits. The plans benefits are standardized by law; which means that the benefits of any plan you choose will be the same regardless of what company you purchase it from. However, it is important to note that the rates are not standardized so your premium will vary depending on the insurer you purchase it from.
Medicare Advantage Plans are health plans approved by the federal government and run by private companies. These plans are sometimes referred to as Medicare Part C. Medicare Advantage Plans offer equal benefits to traditional Medicare plans while also providing extra benefits such as prescription drug coverage, dental and vision benefits, and etc. For this reason, advantage plans are not supplemental insurance.
Unlike, traditional Medicare most advantage plans have provider networks, some of the most common types are:
- Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) – Offers low to no copayment for doctor office visits and no deductibles. However, you are required to receive a referral from your Primary Care Doctor before seeing a specialist, and to receive full benefits, you are must use doctors and hospitals that are within your network.
- Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) – These plans also offer low copayments usually slightly higher than those of an HMO but allow freedom of choice when choosing a doctor or hospital as long as they are part of the PPO network.
Traditional Medicare Parts A and B does not include coverage for prescription drugs. However, Medicare requires all persons enrolled to have creditable prescription drug coverage also known as Part D, it is important that you enroll in a prescription plan when you are first eligible to avoid any late enrollment penalties. To enroll in Medicare Part D, you must be eligible for and enrolled in Original Medicare Parts A and B.
You can obtain prescription drug coverage by enrolling in a standalone plan which is also known as a PDP’s. Some Medicare Advantage plans also include coverage for prescription drugs, these plans are also referred to as MAPD’s.