Medicare Supplement Insurance is a great way for many seniors to lower medical costs. Although many seniors are enrolled in original medicare, original medicare does not cover all of an individuals medical costs. By reviewing a few medicare supplement insurance plans, you will be able to fill in the gaps that medicare doesn’t cover. Before we get into the specifics of Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, we will give a brief overview of what original medicare insurance plans cover and how you will be made eligible for them.
Original Medicare is a health insurance program that is maintained and run by the U.S. Government. Through Medicare you are offered a broad range of medical coverage at little to no cost.
When are you eligible for Medicare?
- You are over 65 years old
- You are under 65 with certain disabilities
- You or your spouse paid Security Taxes for at least 10 years
- You are a permanent resident of the U.S. or a legal citizen who lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years
Before enrolling in a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan, you have to be covered under both parts of Original Medicare: Medicare Part A and B.
Medicare Part A
Part A is completely free and helps you pay for:
- Inpatient care in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities
- Hospice and some home health services
Medicare Part B
Part B is not free and helps you pay for the cost of:
- Doctors Services
- Hospital outpatient care
- Some home health services
- Some physical and occupational therapy
What Medicare Part A and B do not cover
Now that you qualify, and have enrolled in Original Medicare both A and B, you need to know that Original Medicare does not cover ALL of your medical costs. Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans are offered by private insurers to help pay your share (coinsurance, copays, or deductibles) of the costs of medicare-covered services.
What Medicare does not cover:
- Deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments
- Most dental care
- Eye examinations related to prescribing glasses
- Cosmetic Surgery
- Hearing aids and exams for fitting them
- Long-Term care (chronic illness or disability including personal care assistance)
Why choosing a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan is important
Medicare Part A and B of Original Medicare covers about 80% of your medical coverage. You will be responsible for the remaining 20%. Medicare Supplemental Insurance will help you pay the remaining 20%. There are a few different plans to purchase and ALL the benefits are established by the federal government. However, Medicare Supplement Insurance has a unique open enrollment window versus regular health insurance.
When can you buy medicare supplement insurance?
The best time to purchase medicare supplement insurance is during Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment. You will have a 6 month window to enroll for your Medicare Supplement plan. This timeframe starts the first day of the month in which you turn 65 and you are enrolled for Medicare Part B.
Here is a great example of what that would look like:
If you turn 65 on March 8th but wait to join Medicare B until June 18th, then your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment would start on July 1st. This date is important because it is the first time you are both 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B. Thus your 6 month open enrollment period starts.
Important notice: Once this open enrollment clock starts, you can not stop it. Regardless of if you were aware of the window or not.
Why you should buy a Medicare Supplement policy during open enrollment
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage, increase premiums, or delay coverage start dates to individuals seeking to enroll for health insurance. Unfortunately, this rule is NOT extended to those individuals applying for Medicare Supplement Insurance outside of their 6 month open enrollment window. After Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment, insurance companies can do the following:
- Deny coverage based off of past medical history
- Increase Premiums due to past medical history
- Delay the start of coverage
Purchasing a Medicare supplement insurance policy during ones 6 month open enrollment avoids the ability of the insurance companies to deny coverage for medical history, increase the cost of premiums do to medical history and delay the start of coverage. This is why it is incredibly important to take advantage of Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment period.