Medicare supplemental insurance supplements Medicare insurance. It takes up the slack, so to speak. It is actually a policy sold by private insurance companies to Medicare recipients. Because these plans fill in the gap in coverage of health care costs, they are referred to as medigap policies.
Medicare is a federally funded insurance program for persons age sixty-five and older. It is also available to persons with certain disabilities. To qualify, one must be an American citizen. Legal residents living in the United States for five consecutive years may also qualify if other criteria are met.
There is an ideal time to enroll in the Medicare program. Persons receiving Social Security benefits when their sixty-fifth birthday occurs do not have to enroll for parts A and B. Enrollment will take place automatically. For persons not receiving Social Security benefits at their sixty-fifth birthday, enrollment does not occur automatically. There is a six month open enrollment period for these persons. Open enrollment begins three months before they turn sixty-five, and ends three months after their birthday. Part D is available only through a separate insurance plan. There is no automatic enrollment for part D. Those who do not get enrolled during open enrollment may enroll at a later date. However, a late enrollment fee may be charged, and the part B premium may be increased.
Part A covers inpatient services for hospital stays. Home health, hospice services, and skilled nursing in a facility may also be covered. There is no premium for part A, but deductibles or co-payments may apply medicare supplement plans.
Part B covers medical services, such as physician fees, lab tests, x-rays, preventive and diagnostic screenings. Outpatient care, ambulance fees, and mental health services are also covered. Equipment, such as wheelchairs, walkers, suction machines, hospital beds, and other equipment may also be covered.
Part D covers prescription medications. It can only be purchased through a private insurer.
There are twelve standardized supplemental policies available. In most states, these are labeled A through L. The policies which cost the least usually offer the fewest benefits. The plans are regulated by state and federal laws. Each plan must include specific benefits, and be easy to understand. The benefits for each plan are identical with each company which sells that plan. This makes it simple for individuals to choose a plan that meets their needs. Companies choose which plans they want to offer. After choosing a plan, one should find several companies which offer the needed plan. Then, by comparing premiums, one can choose the company with the best deal. Any health care provider which accepts Medicare insurance must also accept the supplemental coverage.