What to do with a Medicare Supplement Plan?
A Medicare Supplement Plan is a type of health insurance plan offered by Private Insurance Companies to help cover the “gaps” of Original Medicare and are typically referred to as Medigap Plans. Medicare Supplement Plans help pay for the costs that Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B would normally pass on to you like deductibles, coinsurance and copayments.
If you have a Medicare Supplement Plan, Medicare will pay for its share of your medical expenses first. Then your policy will pay its share. Depending on which Medicare Supplement Policy you choose, this could be the remainder of your bill.
There are 10 different Medicare Supplement Plans to choose from. Every Plan is required to follow the guidelines created by Medicare when it standardized the plans in 1990. Each standardized plan has their own set of benefits and are identified by a letter (Plan A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N). Each one of these lettered Plans provide the same set of benefits from company to company. (As an example, a Plan G is a Plan G. One Company cannot give you one more benefit in a Plan G than another company). This means that the monthly premium is the main difference between supplements with the same letter. Medicare Supplement
Open Enrollment Per Medicare’s Guide to Health Insurance, the best time to purchase a Medicare Supplement policy is during your open-enrollment window. This window begins the month that you are first enrolled in Part B and lasts for 6 months.
During open-enrollment, the Medicare Supplement company cannot ask you any medical questions. They cannot turn you down for any health conditions. They cannot refuse you a policy or charge you any additional amount due to health conditions, medications or pre-existing illnesses.
After this window closes, however, future insurance companies that you might apply with can accept or decline you based on health. That is why open-enrollment is the best time to enroll.
Please note: The Annual Election Period in the Fall is NOT a time when you can change Medicare Supplement plans with no health questions. Many people mistakenly believe this. The Annual Election Period in the Fall pertains to your Part D Prescription plan or Medicare Advantage Plan, not your Medicare Supplement plan. Medicare Supplement
Guaranteed Issue Some people delay enrollment into a supplement because they have group health coverage through an employer. Later when you retire or lose that coverage, you have the right to purchase six of the ten plans within the 63 days following the loss of your group coverage (Cobra coverage is not included). The guaranteed issue window works just like openenrollment, in that the insurance company cannot deny your application for any health reasons.
There are some other circumstances which create a guaranteed issue window as well, such as losing Medicare Advantage coverage when moving out of state. You will want to keep any notices from your prior carrier that show proof of your creditable coverage for guaranteed issue and so that you do not incur the Part D late enrollment penalty. Medicare Supplement
– Underwritten If your window has already passed for open-enrollment or guaranteed issue, you can still apply for a Medicare Supplement Plan, but you will be required to answer health questions on your application. Based upon your answers to the health questions, the insurance company can accept or decline you.
Once again, The Annual Election Period in the Fall is NOT a time when you can change your Supplement without under writing. Changing Medicare Supplement carriers will require underwriting in most cases. Choosing the right Medicare
Supplement Plans Choosing your Medicare Supplement Plan is a personal decision but it also a very important one. Not only do you need to consider the benefits you need today but you also need to consider the benefits you may need in the future. Once you are out of your openenrollment window or guarantee issue period, you will need to be medically underwritten to qualify for a plan if you decide later that you need additional benefits.
Some additional items to consider when choosing a Medicare Supplement Plan
are: • Rates – Is the premium the company offering you competitive?
• Stability of the company – How long has the Company been offering Medicare Supplement Plans?
• History of Premium Increases – Although most policies will have annual rate increases to keep up with medical inflation, are the rate increases significantly higher than their competitors?
• The service of your agent – Will your agent return your call if you have questions or concerns?
Mike Zimmer is president of Bay State Insurance Agency Ltd in Centreville. He is available to answer questions or speak to your groups regarding Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Supplements, and Medicare Part D (Prescription Plans). He may be reached at 410-758-1680.
Come visit us at the Senior Expo at Chesapeake College on March 22, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Booth #12