As seniors transition into retirement, they are bombarded with options for insurance coverage. With so many plans to choose from, it can be difficult to know whether you have the coverage you will need as you age. We’ve reviewed some of the most popular and comprehensive options to help you find the best Medicare supplement plans of 2019.
What is A Medicare Supplement Plan?
Medicare supplement plans, or MediGap, cover you were original medicare falls short. As you may know, medicare comes with a host of options to suit different needs and lifestyles. You’ll need to decide whether Original Medicare (Parts A & B) or a Medicare Advantage Plan is right for you. If you select Original Medicare, you may want to consider a Medicare Supplement Plan. A Supplement Plan helps you cover expenses that an original medicare doesn’t. This includes things like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.
Supplement Plans vs. Medicare Advantage
Both Medicare Supplement Plans and an Advantage plan help you to anticipate your costs each month, by covering costs which would otherwise vary month to month. For many seniors, this can be a great way to manage your finances on a fixed monthly budget. Medicare Advantage Plans are slightly more popular, with 33% of medicare beneficiaries enrolling in an Advantage Plan. However, which option is right for you will depend on the type and amount of coverage you’re comfortable with, as well as your anticipated medical costs.
Medicare Advantage replaces Original Medicare. These plans must provide the same coverage as Medicare Parts A & B, plus additional benefits. They are offered by private insurance companies, but are approved and funded by Medicare. Advantage plans frequently offer additional coverages such as dental or prescription coverage. The plans can be HMOs, PPOs, or another less common plan type. Though these plans replace Original Medicare, the premium for each (which can be zero) is paid in addition to your Part B premium.
Medicare Supplement Plans are used alongside an existing Original Medicare plan. They are offered by private insurance companies to help cover the out-of-pocket expenses that you would otherwise incur with your Medicare plan. These plans frequently come with a higher premium than Medicare Advantage, but typically offer more coverage to keep your expenses stable on a month-to-month basis. There are 10 Medigap plans available in most states. One of these plans, Plan F, is phasing out and will no longer be available for new enrollment. Because they are accepted anywhere your Original Medicare is, Medical Supplement Plans often give you more choice of providers than Advantage Plans. For many seniors, adding a supplement plan can give you more flexibility to customize your healthcare with the best coverage combination to meet your needs.
To select between a Medicare Advantage Plan and one of our Best Medicare Supplement Plans of 2019, ask yourself a few key questions.
How often do you go to the doctor? If you go to the doctor frequently, or have a chronic medical issue, out-of-pocket expenses can quickly add up. Though a MediGap premium will typically be higher than an advantage plan, many find that their overall costs are lower when they choose MediGap + Part D. Since a Medicare Supplement Plan covers out-of-pocket expenses, it results in a lower cost for those who need frequent medical attention.
Do you love to travel? Because you won’t be restricted to a certain network of doctors, a medicare supplement plan gives you the same coverage when you’re in another state. Certain MediGap plans also cover you on an exchange plan when you travel abroad.
Do you need dental, vision, or prescription drug coverage? Unlike an Advantage Plan, Medicare Supplement Plans cannot offer these benefits. You can, however, purchase a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to get the coverage you need.
Which MediGap Plan Should I Get?
The ten different MediGap plans offer varying amounts of coverage across a few standard categories. One of the most popular plans, Plan F, is phasing out by the end of 2019. Despite this, there remains a lot of flexibility to choose the best plan for you. Medicare Supplement plans remain the same state to state and across providers. However, plan premiums can vary. working with a broker can make it easy to compare plan costs in your state. Be sure to work with a broker who has your best interest at heart. No matter which you select, we encourage you to shop policies with a couple different providers, so you can make sure you get a great price.
Begin by deciding which coverages are most important to you. Do you want to be covered when traveling out of the country? Do you want your policy to include hospice care or skilled nursing facility coinsurance? It’s important to think about your needs now, as well as what they may be in a few years. Remember that if you ever decide to switch your plan you may be charged a higher fee due to underwriting. Some medicare beneficiaries choose to enroll in a more full-coverage Medigap plan when they turn 65, locking it in. This means they will have the coverage they will need later, without the chance of being denied. We recommend narrowing down your plan choice to 2-3 options, and then comparing premiums.
How to Find Best Medicare Supplement Plans of 2019
The most popular plans right now among our reviewers are Plans N, G, and F.
- Plan N, which tends to be an affordable plan.
- Plan G offers more comprehensive coverage
- and Plan F, like G, is a full-coverage plan, but is phasing out this year.
However, the best plan for you will depend on your unique needs and health. Don’t select a plan simply because it is popular amongst your peers. Instead, consider each of the plans offered in your area. Think long and hard about your current and anticipated expenses.
Comparing Medigap plans is quite the task. You could do it on your own, reaching out to brokers or providers and comparing the plans you qualify for. However it can still be difficult to know whether you’re getting the best deal and coverage. We recommend working with a medicare expert to find the right plan for you. But don’t trust just anyone. You want a medicare advocate who truly has your best interest at heart. Some brokers work on incentive plans that encourage them to sell certain plans over others, making it difficult to get objective advice.
That’s why we love The Benefit Link. They are passionate about getting their clients the care they need when they need it. One look at their testimonials page, and you can tell how committed they are to the people they serve. We hear they even remember the names of the clients’ pets and grandchildren! We’re so impressed with their service. You can give them a call to chat about your Medicare & Supplement Plans for free at (844) 388-0678.
When to Apply
It’s best to apply for a Medigap plan before your initial Medicare Enrollment period ends. This helps you avoid medical underwriting that could increase your premiums. The enrollment period lasts 6 months from when you enroll in your Original Medicare plan, so long as you’re over 65. If you apply for a Medicare Supplement plan during this time, you can’t be denied or charged extra for existing health conditions. This doesn’t mean you can never change your coverage. Just make sure that if you do, you’re getting a plan that’s really better for your needs.
Did you know MediGap plans come with a 30-day trial period? This “Free Look” period gives you the opportunity to try out a plan to make sure it’s the best fit for you. If you don’t like it, you can switch to a different Medicare Supplement Plan, or cancel your plan for a refund. This way, you can test out coverage, before making your final choice between MediGap and Medicare Advantage.
Managing Your Coverage Year-to-Year
Depending on the pricing type of the plan you select, your premium may increase according to your age. While all types of plans, premiums can increase year to year due to inflation, and industry changes, an attained-age policy will increase each year based on your new age. Since most seniors live on a fixed income, larger increases can be difficult to handle. For this reason, we recommend selecting a policy with community-rated or issue-age pricing, when possible. When you work with a reputable broker or medicare plan manager, they should help you confirm that your plan is still the best option for you, every year. If you haven’t checked in a while, give your broker a ring, or call The Benefit Link for free at (844) 388-0678.