Medicare supplement insurance policies – commonly referred to as “Medigap” policies – fill the coverage gaps that Medicare Parts A & B will not pay for. This type of coverage is extremely important, but often gets ignored by seniors. Without it, you can end up with thousands of dollars in healthcare charges which you’ll have to pay with your own money. For the majority of Medigap plans, the only requirement to obtain one is that you first be enrolled in Medicare Parts A & B.
Federal Regulations for Medicare Supplements
The CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) is the governmental body accountable for regulating the 10 Medigap plans which are on the market for purchase. Because the plans are regulated, you can be sure that Plan F insurance coverage in Maryland matches it would be in any different state. All you need to be worried about is selecting the right company, and discovering a good deal on your premium.
Medigap Enrollment In Maryland
Judging from this chart, it looks like Medigap Plan F is the most highly favored plan in all of Maryland. The closest runner up is Plan C, with over 24,000 members supplementing their Medicare benefits with that particular policy.
Plan Coverage & Cost
Quite a few variables determine how much your insurance company may charge you for your Medicare supplement plan. As an example, a 67 year old, female non-smoker in Orlando can pay a drastically different premium from a 71 year old male in Maryland who exercises infrequently.
How much a Medigap plan costs depends on several factors. First and foremost is the level of coverage. Remember, every plan is assigned a letter designation by Medicare. If you are looking at two companies offering the same “letter” plan, then the benefits have to be identical. What may vary is how the companies rate other underwriting factors like overall health, medical history, age, and gender. Where you live in Maryland also plays a role because of the widely different costs of healthcare that exists from area to area even at the level of your zip code.
Most Popular Medicare Supplement Plans in Maryland
Do you know why Maryland seniors (as well as seniors in many other states) prefer Plan F to most other plans? It mostly has to do with how comprehensive the plan is, and the ease of use. Plan F covers every single gap in Medicare coverage, and all you have to do is pay one affordable monthly premium in order to receive that protection.
Of course, if you aren’t worried about Medicare Part B excess charges, then the more affordable option for you might be Plan C. The excess charges from Part B is the only gap which C does not cover; and because it covers fewer benefits than Plan F, it will likely cost less.
How do Medicare Plan Ratings Work?
To help Maryland seniors evaluate different Medicare plans, Medicare publishes an Overall Star Rating report each year. Medicare collects data on all companies selling Medicare related plans, evaluates them, and then assigns a “star rating.” The more stars the better the plan. The areas that are measured include how well a company uses screening, vaccinations, lab tests and other preventive measures to keep seniors healthy, the effectiveness of chronic disease management, customer experience with the company, changes in performance (star rating) year to year, and customer service. While these ratings are not comprehensive, they can be useful when making comparisons between plans.
Helpful Medigap Tips & Tricks
Doctor/Provider Network Restrictions
One of many reasons Medigap policies are well liked among golden-agers is the versatility. Contrary to other supplement programs, Medicare supplement insurance doesn’t include any restrictive HMO or PPO provider networks. You may use any doctor that accepts Medicare, in any state, irrespective of where you happen to be. So if you like to travel, if you are living in a non-urban area, or in case you are amongst the millions of “snow birds” who migrate south for the winter, your access to appropriate medical care won’t be limited.
Are you happy with your current doctor? If you purchase a Medigap plan, you will be able to continue with your doctor providing he or she accepts Medicare. Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans allow you to use any physician or facility anywhere in the country as long as they accept Medicare assignment. Other plans may use networks like an HMO or a list of preferred providers like a PPO. Your choice of providers may be limited to those in the network or on the PPO list.
Drug, Vision and Dental Coverage
In case you missed the news, Medicare Part D is now mainly in charge of supplying seniors with prescription drug coverage. Due to this, it is no longer essential for Medicare supplemental insurance policies to supply prescription drug coverage as a possible option. Vision and dental are additional varieties of coverage which Medicare supplement and Medicare will not pay for. You have the option to either find those covered privately on your own, or to pay out-of-pocket if you find it more affordable than insurance coverage.
Enrollment Options & Best Time To Enroll
For straightforward enrollment with little to no hassle, you’ll need to register for a Medigap policy around the time you sign up for Original Medicare (within your first 6 months of Medicare coverage, to be exact). The longer you wait, the more complicated the process could become.
- Initial Enrollment Period: Once you enroll in Original Medicare, you’ve got 6 months to likewise sign up for a Medicare supplement policy so that you can meet the criteria for the initial enrollment period. Enrolling while in the IEP guarantees automatic approval and coverage.
- Guaranteed Issue: Popular among seniors who will be losing an employer or group health plan. The business you apply to will have to accept and cover you, no matter your existing health status.
- Annual Enrollment Period (AEP): Medicare supplement insurance policies are one of the few varieties of insurance which is not plagued by the AEP. You are able to enroll in or change Medigap plans at any time throughout the year.
- Underwritten: For those who miss the IEP and don’t meet the requirements for Guarantee Issue, you might need to go through the underwriting process. This generally requires queries about your health, and possibly a medical exam in order to evaluate whether or not your insurance provider can cover you.
Free Look Period
By federal law, you’ve got 30 days to examine your Medigap plan after your coverage begins. If, for whatever reason, you’re unhappy with your coverage, you may end your policy for a full refund within your first 30 days.
What Medigap Plan Is Best For Me?
The best Medicare Supplement plan is one that fits your personal healthcare needs and your budget. These plans are out there, the challenge is finding the best quality for your money. Remember when evaluating companies, it’s not all about how low the premium is. Keep in mind their financial stability and reputation are valuable factors as well. At Medigap.com we have assembled a comprehensive list of Medigap companies that are licensed to do business in Maryland to help you begin your search for the right plan. Take the time to determine what your future health needs may be and what your retirement budget will allow for insurance. We are here to assist you in any way we can so you can find the plan best suited for you and your needs.