Entering Medicare is a key milestone for millions of Americans every year. Most people know that Medicare provides solid coverage at an affordable price, but that Medicare also comes with a series of gaps that can be expensive. One of the easiest ways to get help paying for these costs is by using Medicare Supplement Insurance. In this article, we’ll review the basics of Medicare Supplement plans in Alaska.
Medicare Supplement Insurance is a health insurance coverage that’s designed to work with Original Medicare. Original Medicare is what’s called the primary coverage, or first payor. So, when you go to the doctor or stay in the hospital, Original Medicare (Parts A and or B) pay a certain amount of your costs first. Normally, you’d have to pay the rest of the bill. But, Medicare Supplement Insurance plans pay as a secondary payor; they pay after Original Medicare. If there’s still an outstanding bill, you’re responsible for that smaller portion. Because these plans help close some of the “gaps” in Medicare, they’re often called Medigap plans.
Medigap plans are issued by private insurance companies. They are not part of your Original Medicare coverage. This is the exact opposite of the situation for Medicare Advantage plans - Medicare Advantage plans are actually an option for receiving your Medicare benefits through a private health insurance company. Medicare Supplement plans, on the other hand, are simply private, supplemental insurance policies that help pay some of your Medicare costs.
While Medicare Supplement Insurance plans are offered by private insurance companies, they are subject to a significant amount of regulation. Medigap plans are subject to federal legislation, state-by-state laws, and also by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the administrator of the Medicare program. As a result of these regulations and laws, most of the rules and benefits of Medigap plans are standardized across the country.
As we already mentioned, these plans are designed to cover the costs that you’d normally encounter when you use Medicare Parts A and B. These out of pocket costs can include:
Depending on which Medigap plan you choose, some or all of the gaps may be covered by your plan.
As we said earlier, most of the rules and benefits are standardized across the United States. 47 of the states have the exact same 11 standardized Medigap plans; Plans A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, N, High Deductible F, and High Deductible G. Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have their own unique Medicare Supplement plans.
In the 47 standardized states, the benefits provided by the11 Medigap Plan options are the same in all states. Therefore, Plan G in Nevada provides the exact same benefits as Plan G in Maine.
When you use your Medicare benefits at a provider’s office, the provider will bill Medicare first, as your primary coverage. They will then bill your Medigap plan the remaining amount, which your plan will pay according to the terms of your specific plan. Any remaining amount is your responsibility.
While there are 11 possible options for Medicare Supplement plans in Alaska, some choices are more popular than others. Medigap plans A, G, and N have tended to be the most popular over the last five years. Prior to 2017, Plan F was the most popular option, but this Plan is not available to anyone who becomes eligible for Medicare after December 31, 2019.
Plan A is the most basic plan available; it closes the least number of gaps. Because of this, it is usually the least expensive option. Plan A will provide coverage for:
Under Plan A, you will still be responsible for:
Plan G is the most comprehensive plan available for people who become eligible for Medicare on or after January 1, 2020. Plan G will cover 100% of your out of pocket costs for all Medicare gaps with only one exception - the Part B deductible. You’ll pay the small Part B deductible each year; Plan G will take care of all of your other Medicare-approved costs. Plan G even covers you for emergencies when you’re outside the U.S.
Plan N is a very unique option. There are only two gaps that Plan N leaves uncovered:
The unique factor is that with Plan B, you’ll pay a small co-payment for office visits (not more than $20) and emergency room visits (no more than $50). If you’re admitted to the hospital, the ER co-pay is waived. In exchange for paying these small co-payments, the premiums for Plan are noticeably lower than for Plan G, which makes Plan N an attractive choice for people on a budget.
Anyone who is actively enrolled in both Part A and Part B of Original Medicare is eligible for a Medicare Supplement plan. However, if you’re under 65 when you enter Medicare it’s a little more complicated.
Federal law leaves Medigap eligibility age up to the individual states (even the 47 standardized states). While some states do require companies to offer Medigap to people under 65, Alaska is not one of them. Despite this, some companies do offer coverage to Alaskans under age 65. However, the premiums for people under 65 tend to be very expensive, which may be unaffordable for many people.
If you do enter Medicare before age 65, rest assured - you will have the chance to get Medicare Supplement Insurance on a more affordable basis. When you turn 65, you’ll enter your Open Enrollment Period, and you’ll have the chance to get the Medicare Supplement plan of your choice at standard premiums.
The best time to enroll in Medigap is during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. Everyone who enters Medicare qualifies for this enrollment window. It lasts for six months, and it doesn’t start until you are actively enrolled in Medicare Part B, and 65 or older.
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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