Original Medicare provides a comprehensive suite of benefits at a price that’s affordable to most people. Despite this fact, there are a number of holes in Original Medicare. You will experience these holes, or gaps, as out of pocket costs. One popular option for limiting these out of pocket costs is Medicare Supplement Insurance. Read this short guide to Medicare Supplement plans in Alabama to learn more about these plans.
Medicare Supplement insurance, or Medigap as it’s also called because it helps close the gaps in Original Medicare, covers everything that’s covered by Parts A and B of Original Medicare. As the word “supplement” implies, this coverage supplements Original Medicare. So, when you go to the doctor or hospital and use your Medicare benefits, Original Medicare pays their benefits first. Only after Medicare has paid will a Medigap plan start paying benefits. If there are any costs left over after your Supplement plan has paid, you’ll be responsible for paying them.
Depending on the specific Medicare Supplement insurance plan you choose, it can help pay for these costs:
Some of the more comprehensive Medigap plans also provide emergency coverage while you’re outside of the United States.
Medicare Supplement insurance is provided by private insurance companies. These private policies are designed to work with Original Medicare. They are completely different from Medicare Advantage plans, which are technically known as Part C of Original Medicare.
While Medicare Supplement plans in Alabama are offered by private insurance companies, they are still regulated by the State of Alabama and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as by federal legislation. The rules and benefits for the standardized Medigap plans are uniform across 47 of the United States, including Alabama. The benefits, coverages, and premiums are all regulated.
There are a total of 11 standardized Medigap plans. They are known by Plan letter: A, B, C, D, F, High Deductible F, G, High Deductible G, K, L, M, and N. Each one of these standardized plans provides slightly different benefits or coverages. These plans have varying levels of comprehensiveness - the more comprehensive a plan is, the more out of pocket costs it pays for you.
Plan A is the most basic and least comprehensive Medicare Supplement plan available. Plan A covers:
Plan A provides no coverage for:
Plan G is the most comprehensive Medicare Supplement plan available to new Medicare Beneficiaries. Plan G covers almost 100% of your Medicare costs, including:
There is only one cost that Plan G doesn’t cover: the Part B deductible. If you use Plan G, you’ll have to pay the Part B deductible out of pocket before the plan will begin helping with your Part B costs.
Plan N is a unique plan that provides benefits almost as comprehensive as Plan G. Plan N covers everything Plan G does, except for the following:
Part B excess charges can be as much as 15% of the Medicare-approved charges for certain services and procedures. These charges are somewhat rare since they can only be charged by providers who accept Medicare patients but don’t accept Medicare’s prices. The overwhelming majority of providers do accept Medicare’s prices.
The rules for Medicare Supplement insurance eligibility are mostly the same from state to state, although there are some subtle differences. Let’s start with the similarities.
In order to be eligible for Medigap coverage, you must be active in Part A and Part B of Original Medicare. Most people get the chance to enter Medicare when they turn 65. For these people, it is easy to add Medicare Supplement insurance as soon as they’re active in Parts A and B.
Some people qualify for Medicare early, before age 65, though. It can be difficult to get Medicare Supplement Insurance plans in Alabama for people under 65. This is one of the rules that is set at the state level. Alabama doesn’t require insurance companies to offer Medigap coverage to people under age 65. As a result, most don’t, and those that do tend to charge very high premiums.
There are dozens of choices for Medicare Supplement plans in Alabama. Not only are there 11 standardized plans to choose from, there are also dozens of different insurance companies that offer these plans. This means that you have hundreds of possible choices. So, how do you choose?
For starters, you should think about what kind of coverage you need. Do you need the most comprehensive plan available? If you anticipate using lots of medical care then you might well want to go with the most comprehensive option.
On the other hand, if you’re a “light” user of health care, you might be overpaying if you go with a comprehensive plan. Perhaps a less expensive, less comprehensive plan like Plan N or D would make more sense.
Another good question to ask yourself is how likely you are to need international coverage. If you have no plans to travel the world, you might be better served by investigating Medigap plans that don’t offer international coverage; like Plans B, K, and L.
Once you know how much coverage you’re interested in, you can start comparing the premium costs for the kinds of plan you’re interested in. There’s very little reason to pay more to one insurance company when you can get the exact same coverage, but at lower cost, with a different insurance company.
The best time to enroll in Medigap is during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This enrollment period begins when BOTH of these are true:
Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period begins when both conditions are satisfied and lasts for a total of six months.
Every Medicare Supplement plan with the same plan letter (F, G, etc) offers precisely the same benefits to you, but prices vary widely from one insurer to another. It’s in your best interest to have access to as many plans by as many insurers as possible when you make your Medicare Supplement plan.
That’s where Medicare Consumer comes in. When you speak with our experts you get access to plans from dozens of different insurers. They’ll guide you to the right plan for you at the best possible rate.
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