What is a Medicare Supplement? When it comes to budgeting your finances during retirement, healthcare is a big concern. For the lucky few who have little to no health concerns, they might want to spend the fewest dollars on health insurance as possible. But, for those who visit a doctor regularly or have health concerns, healthcare can be the biggest, most important piece of the financial pie. If you have started researching Medicare at all, you have certainly heard the term Medicare Supplement or MediGap. These two terms are one and the same. I’m hoping to clarify any confusion as to what a Medicare Supplement is in this blog post. A Medicare Supplement is an insurance policy that works hand-in-hand with Medicare. Medicare is the primary payer and the Medicare Supplement is the secondary payer. There are different levels of Medicare Supplement coverage. Some of the Medicare Supplement plans tend to be the more popular than others. For example there is the Plan F and the Plan G. The Plan F is going to cover all of the out-of-pocket expenses that Medicare leaves behind. But this plan is going away in 2020. If you have it, you can keep it. But if you don't get it before its gone, you may not be able to get it. The Plan G is going to leave you responsible for paying the Medicare Part B deductible (currently $185 for the year 2019). Once you have met the Part B deductible, the Plan G will cover everything else. Something to remember, a Medicare Supplement will only pay if Medicare pays first. If you have a procedure done that Medicare says is not medically necessary, then Medicare will not pay it’s portion and neither will the Medicare Supplement. Medicare is truly the engine to the train when it comes to a Medicare Supplement coverage. Most of the time when you see your doctor you will be having a medically necessary visit and/or procedure. You shouldn’t have to worry about Medicare not paying in most cases. Unless you’re looking into a face lift or tummy tuck. Medicare Supplements also have a monthly premium attached to them and this monthly premium will unfortunately increase over time. Now, I don’t want that to deter you from looking at a Medicare Supplement. There are some great benefits that come with a Medicare Supplement that depending on your situation could heavily outweigh the costs associated with it. First, your Medicare Supplement will generally be accepted wherever Medicare is. I say generally because there are certain facilities who will not take Medicare Supplements from certain insurance carriers. As long as you are working with an agent who works with top rated insurance carriers, you should not run into this problem. Another great thing about Medicare in the first place, is that it is accepted all over the United States. That means if you have Medicare and a Medicare Supplement, you have the choice of getting care from any physician in United States who takes Medicare. This may not be something you ever thought of but here’s a great example. If you are diagnosed with cancer and have Medicare with a Medicare Supplement, you could go to the best doctors in the country. Many people would want to go to MD Anderson in Texas. Fortunately, MD Anderson takes Medicare and would then also take your Medicare Supplement. Another great thing is that Medicare Supplements do not have an Annual Contract. This means you can change companies at any time and do not have to wait for a specific enrollment period. So, if you’re with a company who raises your monthly premium too high, you can shop around at any time to see if there’s another insurance carrier offering the same plan at a lower premium. Medicare Supplement’s are also mandated by the government. What this means is a Plan F with one company is the same as the Plan F with another company. Insurance companies are not allowed to change the coverage within the plan. Generally the only differences between Medicare Supplement insurance carriers are their premiums, any additional benefits, and their level of customer service. When you first joined (just "join") Medicare, you have your Medicare Supplement open enrollment period. This includes the month that you first get on Medicare Part B and the five months that follow. At any time during the six-month period, you are able to opt into the Medicare Supplement without any health questions being asked of you. This is a huge benefit and potentially the only time you’ll ever have this opportunity. Later, if you want to join a Medicare Supplement or switch plans between different companies, you will be subject to answering health questions. If your health is in poor shape, you could potentially be denied coverage from the new company or assessed a higher premium to cover the cost of your medical care. So a quick run down: Medicare Supplements • Have a monthly premium that will increase over time • Will go wherever Medicare is accepted and follow the rules of Medicare • Cover some or all of the co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance of Medicare • Offer Guaranteed Issue when you first get on Medicare but can qualify you for acceptance using health questions after the Open Enrollment Period is over • Do not have annual contracts meaning you can switch plans or companies at any time It’s hard to know when the right time is to get a Medicare Supplement. For you it could be now, later or never. We just don’t know. But, if this is the type of insurance that you prefer and would like, it’s always recommended to get it during the open enrollment period. This just ensures you can have the coverage that you want. As always, please reach out to me with any questions you have individually.