What Is a Medicare Supplement?

A Medicare supplement is a supplemental insurance policy that works alongside your Original Medicare coverage to help pay for some of the health care costs you may not have covered by your Original Medicare plan. Often called Medigap, these policies are sold by private insurance companies and are standardized, meaning that they have the same basic benefits nationally.

Does a Medicare Supplement Cover Medication?

Many Medicare supplement plans do not include prescription Learn more drug coverage, but you can buy a separate Part D plan for an extra premium. You can also get a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage.

Is a Medicare Supplement Policy Right for Me?

If you aren’t sure if a Medicare supplement policy is right for you, talk to a licensed agent. They can explain the differences between the different types of plans and help you decide which one is best for your situation. They can also help you compare the various costs and features of each type of Medicare supplement policy to determine which is most affordable for your needs.

Should I Purchase a Medigap Policy Outside of the Open Enrollment Period?

During the six-month open enrollment period that starts when you enroll in Medicare Part B, you can’t be denied a Medicare supplement policy or charged more based on your health history. In some states, you may also be subject to a pre-existing condition waiting period when buying a Medigap policy.

Are there Other Ways to Pay Medicare Out-of-Pocket Costs?

If your employer or spouse’s employer offers group health insurance, you might not need a Medicare supplement policy. You could instead switch to a Medicare Advantage plan, which covers the same benefits as Medicare Parts A and B.

Medicare is a federal program that pays health care costs for people age 65 and older, or those who have qualifying disabilities. It also pays for health care for some children under age 65.

Its costs are relatively low, but its deductibles and copays can be high. This is why most people choose a Medicare supplement policy to help pay the costs that Original Medicare does not cover.

A Medigap policy can pay a percentage of the Part A deductible and the Medicare Part B deductible, or it might pay for a percentage or all of your out-of-pocket Medicare costs, such as copayments and deductibles. It can also pay for some services that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, such as dental, hearing, and vision.

Some Medigap policies offer additional benefits, such as overseas emergency care. Some also pay for 80% of Medicare-approved doctor charges that are not covered by Original Medicare.

Should I Use a Medigap Company That’s Not Standardized?

Currently, there are 10 standardized Medicare Supplement plans with letter names A through N offered by private insurance companies. The standardized plans are all guaranteed renewable, so you don’t have to worry about your policy being cancelled or rejected due to a change in your health.

If you live in Connecticut or New York, you can enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan without any health questions. But in other states, you might have to answer some health questions on your application. If you don’t answer all the questions, the insurer can ask other questions — such as about your health history or current health conditions — and raise your premium for the next year.