If you’re concerned about the amount of money you’re liable to pay for medical care under Medicare, you may want to consider adding a Medicare Supplement plan. In this article, we’ll review the basics of these plans and some of the details so that you can understand how Medicare Supplement plans in Illinois work.
Medicare Supplement Plans, which are popularly referred to as Medigap Plans, are an insurance coverage that are designed to be used with Original Medicare. As the name “supplemental” suggests, they only supplement your basic Medicare benefits; they don’t provide any benefits on their own. Instead, they are designed to pay for some of the expenses that you’d normally have to pay out of pocket when you use your Medicare benefits. Original Medicare, Parts A and B, cover most of the costs for your Medicare care, but not all of them. Medicare was designed in such a way that you’re expected to share a portion of the cost for most treatments and services you receive. The costs, which are often called gaps, include:
As you can see, Medicare will pay most of the costs for the treatments you receive throughout the year. However, the costs that you do pay, while relatively small, can add up during the year. In fact, they keep adding up all year; there is no cap or limit on your out of pocket spending. While in most years your expected payments are likely to be mild, the possibility exists that you might need extensive treatments, surgeries, or hospitalization; paying for these can be a crippling financial burden. This is what Medicare Supplement plans are designed to help prevent.
Medigap coverage is issued by private insurance companies. As stated before, they are designed only to fill in the gaps in Medicare. To accomplish this goal, Medigap insurance is regulated by the federal government as well as the state of Illinois. CMS - the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - is the primary regulator of all aspects of Medicare. However, a combination of federal and state legislation has standardized Medigap plans throughout 47 of the states (including Illinois). This means that the number of Medigap plans available, and the benefits they provide, are the same in all 47 states. In these standardized states, there are 11 standardized Medigap plans. They’re known by letter (A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, N, High Deductible F, and High Deductible G), and each one of them offers a different coverage mixture. The standardized plans each cover a different number and combination of the gaps in Medicare. Since the plans are standardized, the plans and benefits are the same in each of the standardized states; they’re also standardized across all insurance companies. This standardization feature makes comparing coverage and choosing a plan much easier. As mentioned earlier, Medigap works together with Original Medicare. When you go to the doctor or a facility for services and procedures, you’ll pay with both your Medicare card and your Medicare Supplement plan card. The provider will bill both programs in this manner:
Since your Medicare Supplement plan will be picking up the tab for many of the costs you’re supposed to pay, you can tailor your coverage to your needs by picking the standardized Medigap plan that will cover the expenses you care most about, while also fitting your budget.
For people who are age 65 and older when they become eligible to enter Medicare, the eligibility requirements are simple. You have to be enrolled in both Part A and Part B of Medicare. You have to keep paying your Part B premium. As long as you meet those requirements, you’re eligible for Medicare Supplement coverage, no matter which state you live in. The picture is less clear for people who enter Medicare before their 65th birthday. There are three qualifications for entering Medicare early:
In these cases, your coverage will start right away, even if you are years or decades younger than 65 years old. While you’ll qualify for Parts A and B, each individual state has its own rules about Medigap eligibility for people under 65. In Illinois, insurance companies are required to offer Medigap coverage to people who enter Medicare before age 65. Not only this, but they also require insurance companies to limit the premiums for people under 65.
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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MedicareConsumer.com is a non-government agency and is on a mission to help current and future Medicare recipients find the best Medicare supplement plan for their unique needs. Medicare insurance logos as seen on MedicareConsumer.com belong to the respected trademark owners in our available network of Medicare insurance carriers. Any and all rate quotes for Medicare supplement plans are free to consumers and you are not obligated to purchase any plan from any carrier.
Participating sales agencies do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov or 1–800–MEDICARE to get information on all of your options.
Participating sales agencies represent Medicare Advantage [HMO, PPO, PFFS, and PDP]organizations that are contracted with Medicare. Enrollment depends on the plan’s contract renewal.
Enrollment in the described plan type may be limited to certain times of the year unless you qualify for a special enrollment period.