Your Medicare Supplement
Most people dream of retiring to sandy beaches and care-free days, not growing medical bills and financial stress.
As more and more seniors retire, they face the discomfiting reality that some of the medical care they require in their later years is extraordinarily expensive. So expensive, in fact, that Social Security programs such as Medicare do not provide adequate funding for their healthcare needs.
Government programs like these are intended to help retirees address growing medical bills, but as the senior population grows, these programs are under more and more stress. As a result, these retirees must look to other resources to prepare for their golden years.
The Medicare Gap
The disparity between money owed and money provided by government programs like Medicare is known as the Medicare gap or the Medigap. Though Medicare is intended to help seniors address unforeseen financial difficulties, developments in medicine mean longer life spans and an enormous strain on the already-tight government budget.
Fortunately, Medicare gap insurance policies make it a little easier to prepare for any future sky-high medical bills. These insurance policies are intended to provide coverage for any circumstances not already covered by a Medicare plan.
Preparing for retirement requires a lot of hard work and foresight. Medigap insurance policies can be an important part of preparing for retirement.
Types of Medicare Programs
Most people on Medicare are either on Medicare Part A, Part B, or both. Plan A covers hospital costs, whereas Part B covers other medical costs. Generally speaking, most people with Part A will not need to purchase a supplemental health insurance plan, as they qualify for premium-free Medicare already. Those with only Part B are more likely to need supplemental plans due to Part B’s high premium, co-pay, and deductible.
Please note that those with Medicare Part C (which offers similar coverage to Part A plus home health care) cannot purchase supplement Medicare Insurance policies.
Medicare Supplemental Insurance Companies
One out of four people on Medicare uses Medigap insurance to help pay for excess healthcare costs. Given the high demand for this type of insurance, there are many, many policy providers. Between all the different options, navigating policy choices can be very confusing. Below are the most popular policies nationwide:
Aetna has plans to provide supplemental coverage for 5 out of 10 Medicare plans and offers 100% coverage for most costs associated with Medicare’s Part A and B. This company’s coverage is likely the most extensive on this list.
Cigna provides supplemental plans for most Medicare plans and has coverage in 38 states. Cigna’s plans are guaranteed renewable for life. This means that customers can feel confident that Cigna won’t drop them from their plan. Additionally, customers can qualify for a discount if their spouses also sign up for a supplemental policy.
3. Blue Cross Blue Shield
Blue Cross Blue Shield is known for its wide acceptance and offers plans to cover the Medigap in all 50 states. As most healthcare providers accept Blue Cross Blue Shield as an insurance provider, patients rarely need to switch doctors after signing up with this company.
Humana offers country-wide Medigap coverage for 9 out of the 10 Medicare plans. Humana has a particularly useful tool for exploring their policies and finding out more information. Additionally, those with supplemental Medigap plans through Humana have access to a 24-hour hotline run by medical professionals. Through this hotline, customers can speak with nurses about any health concerns they may have.
Thanks to state and federal laws, Medigap insurance providers are required to set standardized rules for their policies. Despite this, policy prices can vary according to geographical location and offered discounts.
Beware Scams and Illegal Business Practices
Buyers need to read the fine print when purchasing a policy from a Medigap insurance company and beware of illegal practices. According to the U.S. Government’s Medicare.gov, the following business practices are illegal:
- Pressure consumers to buy a Medigap policy
- Sell consumers a secondary Medigap policy
- Sell consumers a Medigap policy if they know that they have Medicaid (except in few, specific cases)
- Sell consumers a Medigap policy that violates state laws and regulations
If in doubt of certain business practices, consumers should review the Medicare.gov website for further information. If any company attempts to avoid government regulations, they should be reported to Medicare’s Inspector General’s hotline.
To find the best Medigap insurance plan, consumers should ask for a variety of quotes. Make sure that your golden years are golden with a Medigap insurance policy that works for you.