Medicare Supplement Insurance – Knowing Ones Options
When the time in one’s life arrives to make decisions, it pays to be informed. This is certainly true about Medicare Supplemental Insurance, and of Medicare health Insurance. The following information should be helpful when the time comes that one must make these vital decisions.
Medicare is an insurance program that is available to all American citizens aged sixty-five and older. It is also available to younger persons who have certain disabilities. Legal residents may also qualify. To do so, they must have been in the United States for the past five years, and meet other qualifying criteria. It is funded by the federal government. Because it does not cover all health care costs 100%, Medicare supplemental plans are available. The supplemental plans are sold to Medicare recipients by private insurance companies. Because these private plans fill in the gaps that Medicare does not cover, they are often called medigap policies.
For some, enrollment in the Medicare program is automatic. This means they do not have to do anything to start receiving benefits. This is those who are already receiving Social Security benefits when they become sixty-five years old. Parts A and B of the program will become effective when they are sixty five. For those who are not receiving Social Security when they turn sixty-five, they must enroll to receive benefits. Part D requires a separate enrollment, and is available only through a private insurance company.
Open enrollment is a six month period. Any time during the three months prior to, and three months after, the sixty-fifth birthday, one may enroll. If one does not enroll during this time frame, they may enroll at a later date. Those who enroll late may be charged a late fee. In addition to a late fee, the part B monthly premium may cost more than it otherwise would. Those who enroll late for Medicare Part D may also be charged a late fee.
Part A, B, and D, all cover different aspects of the cost of health care. Inpatient services, home health skilled nursing care, and hospice care are covered under part A. There is no monthly premium for part A. Deductibles and co-pays, however, may apply. A few things to keep in mind when shopping:
- Larger insurance Agencies tend to represent more Companies (which guarantees you the lowest rate)
- Big agencies can offer better service and probably care more (independent agents are often not as available)
- Smaller agencies tend to disappear after a while Big agencies are around forever
Medical services, such as doctors’ fees, lab work, x-rays, health screenings, and mental health services are covered under part B. Ambulance fees and various medical equipment may also be covered.
There are twelve supplemental plans. The supplemental coverage must be accepted by the health care provider which accepts Medicare secondary insurance. Each insurance company decides which plans they will sell. Most states categorize the plans with the letters A through L. Each category must have distinct benefits that are easy for the average person to understand. The plan with the fewest benefits is also the least expensive.
After the decision is made regarding which plan is needed, one must find a company which offers that plan. It is wise also to shop around for the company which offers the needed plan at the lowest premium. To save time and effort, one should inquire with the Medicare authorities in their state. A list of companies with the best reputation may be provided.