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8 Frequently Asked Questions: Medicare Supplements

It’s perfectly OK to have lots of questions about Medicare. The program is riddled with acronyms and rules that are constantly changing! While we are happy to answer any question you have, here are a few frequently asked questions about Medicare Supplements to get you started.

FAQ sign for Medicare Supplements

1. What is Medicare Supplement insurance?

Medicare Supplement insurance, also known as Medigap, is a private insurance policy designed to supplement Original Medicare (Parts A and B) by covering some of the out-of-pocket costs not covered by Medicare.

2. Who is eligible for Medicare Supplement insurance?

To be eligible, you must be enrolled in both Medicare Parts A and B and live in the state where the plan is offered. Plan C and Plan F have additional eligibility requirements. To choose one of these two plans, you must have been enrolled in Parts A and B prior to January of 2020.

Depending on when you enroll, you may be asked a series of health questions. Medical underwriting applies in some situations, but rules vary by state.

3. What does Medicare Supplement insurance cover?

Medigap plans cover various gaps in Original Medicare, such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. The specific benefits covered by each plan vary, but they all follow federal and state laws to offer standardized benefits.

The most popular Medicare Supplement plans are called Plan F, Plan G, and Plan N. These three plans pick up nearly (or all, in the case of Plan F) remaining costs from Parts A and B.

4. How does Medicare Supplement insurance work with Medicare?

Medigap insurance supplements your Original Medicare coverage, so when you receive medical services, Medicare pays its portion, and your Medigap insurance pays its portion. Think of it as a secondary insurance plan.

5. How much does Medicare Supplement insurance cost?

The cost of Medicare Supplement insurance varies by plan and by insurance company, but it does require a monthly premium. The cost can also vary depending on factors such as your age, location, and gender. Remember, these plans are standardized, so it’s wise to shop around at different insurance carriers to find the most competitive rate. If you use the services of an independent insurance agent, they’ll compare carriers on your behalf.

6. How do I choose a Medicare Supplement insurance plan?

It's important to compare plans and consider your healthcare needs and budget when choosing a Medicare Supplement insurance plan. You can also consult a licensed insurance agent or a Medicare advisor for assistance.

7. Are Medicare Supplement plans better than Medicare Advantage plans?

Unfortunately, nothing in Medicare is so black and white! While Medicare Supplement plan premiums cost more, they have fewer out-of-pocket costs than Medicare Advantage plans do. Plus, they have the advantage of not using provider networks, giving members the freedom to choose their own doctors. 

However, Medicare Advantage plans offer low (sometimes $0) monthly premiums and include a more comprehensive list of benefits like prescription drug coverage and routine dental, hearing, and vision services. 

8. Can I change my Medicare Supplement plan?

You bet! Medicare beneficiaries can choose to change their Medicare Supplement plan at any time of the year - there is no need to wait for a specific enrollment period. However, in most cases, you’ll need to be healthy enough to pass a series of health questions. Some states have unique, less strict rules that allow beneficiaries more opportunities to change their plan.

If you have Medicare questions, we can help. Use our online tools to find a local Medicare agent near you. Our experts understand Medicare and how the plans work in your area.

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We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area which are United Healthcare, Aetna, Humana, Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Centene, Devoted, and Scan. Please contact, 1-800-MEDICARE, or your local State Health Insurance Program to get information on all of your options.

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