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Understanding Medicare Supplement Plan B

Understanding Medicare Supplement Plan B

Medicare is an important health care program for those who are age 65 and over, as well as some who are under the age of 65 and are disabled. While Medicare pays for a fair amount of expenses regarding hospitalization and doctor visits, as well as for various prescription drug needs, what many people do not realize is that Medicare also leaves a lot of “gaps” when it comes to what is required from its enrollees.  Good news! There are plans to help fill in the coverage gap such as a Medicare supplement Plan N. If you already have a plan in place, such as Plan J, we can answer any questions you may have.

For example, Medicare Part A and Part B – also known as Original Medicare – can require deductibles, co-payments, and / or co-insurance on many of its services and procedures. As these costs add up, it can become extremely expensive for an individual or a couple who are enrolled in the Medicare program. One way to help combat these costs is through a Medicare Supplement Insurance policy.

The Parts of Medicare and What They Cover

To understand Medicare Supplement insurance, it helps to know how Medicare works, and what each part of the program covers. There are currently four different components to Medicare. These include the following:

  • Part A – Hospital Insurance: Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospitalization, as well as some skilled nursing home facility care, some hospice care, and some home health care services.
  • Part B – Doctors Services: Medicare Part B covers two types of services. These include services and supplies that are necessary to treat a medical condition and preventive services.
  • Part C – Medicare Advantage: Medicare Part C is an alternative way to get your Medicare Part A and Part B services. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies that contract with Medicare. These plans must cover all of the services that Medicare Part A and Part B do, other than hospice care (this is because Original Medicare will cover hospice – even if a person is enrolled in Medicare Part C). Medicare Advantage plans may also offer additional services such as vision, dental, and wellness programs.
  • Part D – Prescription Drug Coverage: Medicare Part D offers prescription drug coverage. This is also offered via private insurance companies. Individuals who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan may have prescription drug coverage included within their plan. Those who are in Original Medicare need to purchase Medicare Part D separately.

What is Medicare Supplement Insurance and How Does It Work?

Medicare Supplement insurance is a type of insurance coverage that can help Medicare enrollees to fill in the coverage “gaps” that are not paid for by their Medicare, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. This is why this coverage is often referred to as “Medigap” insurance.

Some Medicare Supplement insurance plans will also cover certain benefits that Medicare Part A and B do not pay for, such as emergency foreign travel expenses. There are items that are not covered by Medigap, however, such as vision, dental, and long-term care expenses.

There are ten standardized Medicare Supplement plans. Each plan is named after a letter of the alphabet, starting with Plan A. This plan offers the most basic, or core, set of benefits. These core benefits are required to be included in most of the other Medicare Supplement insurance plans.

Medicare Supplement plans are not offered by Medicare itself, but rather through private insurance carriers. While all Medigap plans of the same corresponding letter are required to offer the same identical set of benefits, the premiums can differ quite a bit from one insurance company to another. Because of that, it is a good idea to compare several policies before making your final purchase decision.

What Does Medicare Supplement Plan B Cover?

Medicare Supplement Plan B covers (in 2016) the following benefits:

  • Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs, up to an additional 365 days after Medicare benefits are used up;
  • Medicare Part B coinsurance or co-payment;
  • First three pints of blood;
  • Medicare Part A hospice care coinsurance or co-payment;
  • Medicare Part A deductible.

–For those who live in Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, Medicare Supplement insurance policies are standardized in a different way.

Why Consider Medicare Supplement Plan B Versus Other Medigap Plans?

While there are many different Medicare Supplement plans to choose from, Plan B can offer a number of nice advantages. First, in many cases, the premium for this plan will usually be on the lower end of the spectrum. This is because Medigap Plan B offers primarily just the basic set of core benefits, plus the additional coverage for the Medicare Part A deductible.

So, for those who want that additional amount of coverage – for not that much extra in premium – Medicare Supplement Plan B could provide you with the ideal choice. This is especially the case if you do not need a more comprehensive plan.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan

Before enrolling in Medicare Supplement Plan B – or in any Medigap plan – it is important to consider certain factors. Doing so can help you in determining which of the Medicare Supplement plans may be the best for you. For instance:

  • What are your typical health care needs, as well as some of the services that might be important to you (as well as to your spouse, if applicable);
  • How much can you comfortably afford to pay in premiums each year? Typically, Medicare Supplement Plans A and B will not be quite as costly as the more comprehensive plans like G and Plan F.

It will also be important to consider the insurance company that you may purchase your Medicare Supplement insurance plan through. For example, insurance companies are generated by insurer rating agencies. These ratings are based in large part on the insurer’s financial strength and stability, as well as the insurance carrier’s reputation for paying out policyholder claims. In this case, you will want to ensure that you choose an insurance carrier that is highly rated – especially as the benefits that are offered on Medigap insurance policies are identical.

Who is Eligible for Medicare Supplement Insurance Coverage?

Although you may be receiving Medicare benefits in one way or another, not everyone who is enrolled in Medicare will be eligible for a Medicare Supplement insurance policy. It is only those individual who are enrolled in the Original Medicare program – which is Medicare Part A and B – that are allowed to also have a Medicare Supplement plan.

Therefore, if you receive your coverage via a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Part C, you will not be eligible to apply for Medicare Supplement. One reason for this is because you are likely already receiving some of the benefits that are included in the Medigap plans.

When Can You Purchase a Medigap Plan?

Throughout your working life, you were typically able to apply for regular health insurance coverage at any time. Not so with Medicare Supplement plans. With this type of coverage, the best time to apply is during your open enrollment period.

This encompasses the 6-month time frame that begins on the day that you turn 65 and you are also enrolled in Medicare Part B. The reason for applying during this time is because, during your open enrollment period, a Medicare Supplement insurance company cannot turn you down for a policy – even if you have an adverse health condition.

But, if you wait until after your open enrollment period has ended, this will not be the case. In fact, it is possible that if you wait too long to apply, you could be charged more for your coverage – or you may even be denied for your Medigap coverage altogether.

How and Where to Find the Best Premium Quotes on Medigap Plan B?

If you’re looking for the best premium quotes on a Medicare Supplement Plan B, then it makes sense to work with a company or an agency that has access to more than just one Medigap insurer.

Because all insurance carriers that provide Medicare Supplement must offer identical benefits on plans of the same corresponding letter, the coverage that you are shopping for on a Medicare Supplement Plan B will be the same. The premium price, however, can differ a great deal from one insurance to another. Over time, even a small monthly difference can add up to a lot.

When you’re ready to directly compare your best Medicare Supplement Plan B options, we can help. We work with many of the top Medicare Supplement providers, and we can assist you in obtaining all of the important information that you require in making a purchase decision. We can do so for you quickly and easily. So, if you’re ready to proceed, just simply use the quote form on this page.

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