Medigap Policies and How To Choose One

Medigap policies are provided by private insurance companies and cover medical expenses not paid by Medicare. Seniors over the age of 65 who are enrolled in Part A and Part B of the Medicare Program are eligible for enrollment in Medigap plans.

Medicare supplements offer seniors the security of knowing that their medical expenses are covered to the level they select. After an extended illness or lengthy hospital stay, seniors and their beneficiaries are relieved to find that medical expenses are substantially less than they expected, or eliminated entirely, as a result of having Medigap insurance.

Of the 10 Medigap programs available, Plan F is selected most often. It is the most comprehensive coverage of all the Medigap plans. Seniors who have plan F pay no deductible or out-of-pocket expenses for hospital or outpatient services. It also provides coverage for skilled-nursing facility care as well as emergency care while traveling outside the United States. Plan F is the top choice for seniors who do not want to worry about unexpected hospital or doctor bills. The only drawback is that the premiums are higher than the other Medigap plans

Another popular choice for Medigap coverage is Plan G. Like Plan F, it covers expenses not covered by Part A and B of the Medicare program, such as co-payments, deductibles and co-insurance. It also covers part B excess charges. The only difference is that it does not cover the Part B deductible.

For those that want to have a lower premium and still have basic coverage, Plan C is a good alternative. Plan C covers most of the medical expenses that Medicare does not cover. It does not, however, cover charges in excess of the Medicare-approved amount.

Plan N is different from the other Medigap policies because of the way it handles Part B coinsurance and co-payments. While it pays all of the Medicare Part A deductible, it pays none of the Part B deductible. Once the deductible is met for office visits or emergency room care that does not result in hospitalization, Plan N pays 100 percent of Part B coinsurance. Many seniors choose plan N as it has a lower premium than Plan F and still offers comprehensive coverage after the Part B yearly deductible is met.

As if these choices were not enough, there is another type of medical coverage for seniors to consider. Medicare Advantage plans are alternatives to the Medicare Part A and B program. Premiums are less than the combined premiums for Medicare and Medigap, however, there are fewer benefits covered. For many seniors with this plan, out-of-pocket costs are more, especially for lengthy illnesses or hospital stays. Seniors with the Medicare Advantage program must stay within a restrictive network of providers in order to receive benefits.

Another consideration is that premiums rise over the years, so seniors on Medicare Advantage programs benefit from reviewing their options during the special enrollment periods as their health needs change. In contrast, Medigap plans offer a wide selection of coverage options that save money overall and provide a greater level of security.

With all the options available to seniors for medical coverage, selecting a plan is a daunting task. Seniors are advised to consult with a licensed insurance specialist to help find the plan with the right benefits. Fortunately, there is a plan for every budget.

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