Medigap is a type of Medicare supplement insurance policy designed to fill in the coverage gaps associated with Original Medicare Parts A & B. While Medicare tries to be comprehensive, there are some healthcare necessities which it does not cover. And if you don’t have any Medigap insurance to cover those necessities, you could end up paying thousands in out-of-pocket hospital bills. In order to purchase Medigap insurance, you must first be enrolled in Original Medicare.
Federal Regulations for Medicare Supplements
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are responsible for regulating Medicare supplement plans. This helps ensure that, of the 10 available plans, all insurance companies in all 50 states offer the exact same plans and coverage options. This way, the only difference from one insurance company to another is the price of your monthly premium. Medigap plans are named alphabetically (A-N), and the most popular plans in Alaska are F, J, and C by a significant margin.
Medigap Enrollment In Alaska
Thousands of seniors in Alaska are currently supplementing their Medicare benefits with an affordable, reliable Medigap policy. Below, you can see which plans Alaskans prefer. Plans M is not as highly favored, whereas Plan F is widely popular.
Plan Coverage & Cost
The price you pay for your Medigap supplement plan will vary by county, by your zip code, and your individual characteristics, such as age, chronic illness, and smoking habits. There are many other additional factors which will affect your rate.
Your pricing may vary based on a myriad of different factors. How healthy you are is a big one. The more unhealthy habits you have – such as smoking or drinking – the more you may end up paying for your policy. The further you are along in age can be a factor as well. Rates are also adjusted based on your location. You should expect your Medicare supplement health insurance provider to ask for your zip code when you apply for a policy. But you shouldn’t just take the first quote you get. If you really want to save the greatest amount of money, you need to shop around. Take a look at the chart below, which displays prices in your area.
Most Popular Medicare Supplement Plans in Alaska
Like many other states, Alaskans prefer Medigap Plan F above most other Medicare supplement plans. It’s fairly easy to see why: Plan F covers 100% of the coverage gaps which exist in Traditional Medicare and provides more benefits than the other 9 plans. However, because Plan F is so comprehensive, it is also the most expensive Medigap plan on the market.
The next most popular Medicare supplement plan which Alaskan residents prefer is plan J. Unfortunately, if you are not yet enrolled in Medicare, then plan J will not be available to you once you are successfully enrolled. Plan J (along with plans E, H, and I) was eliminated as an option in 2010 when federal legislation reformed the program. These four plans were rendered obsolete when Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage became available.
How do Medicare Plan Ratings Work?
The plans are evaluated and the results are displayed using a star rating. This helps give customers like you and idea of both the services that a particular plan offers as well as the quality of the plan and the care you may receive. Some factors we evaluate include how your chronic conditions will be managed, customer service experiences, complaints from other members, as well as screenings and tests.
Helpful Medigap Tips & Tricks
Seniors in Alaska have some unique healthcare needs based on state and local laws. For this reason, we’re in the process of gathering data on plans near you, along with strategies for maximizing your overall savings while still getting the best healthcare available.
Doctor/Provider Network Restrictions
One of the main reasons Medicare supplement policies are so popular among seniors is their flexibility. Unlike other supplement programs, Medigap insurance doesn’t come with any restrictive HMO or PPO provider networks. You can use any doctor which accepts Medicare, in any state, no matter where you are. So if you like to travel, if you live in a rural area, or if you are one of the millions of “snow birds” who migrate south for the winter, your access to proper health care will not be restricted.
Among private plans, you’re usually restricted to a specific network of doctors and hospitals and can’t always see the doctor or visit the facility you want. Medicare Supplement plans are accepted as widely as Medicare is, so that won’t be a problem with one of these policies. As long as the doctor, hospital, or facility accepts Medicare assignment, you are good to go. Assignment is when your doctor is willing to accept the Medicare-approved payment for your care, and files your medical claims on your behalf. The doctor also agrees that they will not charge you any more than your predetermined cost share. This could be in the form of coinsurance, co-payments, or applicable deductible(s).
Drug, Vision and Dental Coverage
Due to the 2010 reform legislation mentioned earlier, Medigap plans in Alaska no longer cover prescription drug benefits. However, you can get your prescriptions covered by signing up for Medicare Part D, which was created specifically for Prescription drug benefits. Additionally, vision and dental coverage are absent from Medicare and Medigap coverage. If you need vision and dental insurance, you will have to purchase a separate policy through a private company.
Enrollment Options & Best Time To Enroll
Below are the different ways in which you can qualify for a Medicare supplement plan. Some companies may require you to answer questions about your health before qualifying, others may limit your options due to pre-existing conditions. If you’re lucky, just being enrolled in Medicare might be enough to qualify you. For more information, take a look at our Medigap Enrollment Options page, or contact one of our licensed agents. They can make personal recommendations based on your specific circumstances.
- Initial Enrollment Period: You are guaranteed coverage, no questions asked, if you purchase a Medigap plan within your first 6 months of enrolling in Medicare.
- Guaranteed Issue: Common among seniors who are losing an employer or group health plan. The company you apply to must accept and cover you, regardless of your current health status.
- Annual Enrollment Period (AEP): You can actually enroll in or change your Medigap plan at any time; however, this is the preferred window for many types of insurance (including, but not limited to, Medigap policies).
- Underwritten: The process through which a company asks you questions and possibly runs medical tests in order to determine whether or not they can offer you coverage.
Free Look Period
In order to make the shopping experience easy and hassle-free, all seniors have 30 days after purchasing a new Medigap policy to decide whether or not they would like to keep it. If you decide within those 30 days that you are not happy with your plan, you may cancel your plan for a full refund.
What Medigap Plan Is Best For Me?
Picking the right Medigap plan for you depends on your personal needs. You’ll need to find the right provider and you’ll need to find a policy which covers the specific Medicare coverage gaps you are most vulnerable to. The good news is that we are here to help. We’ve gathered data on Medigap providers in your area and we can help meet you in the right direction so that you don’t have to spend the time and energy doing it yourself.
First, however, you need to do a little bit of planning for the future. You have to sit down and honestly ask yourself what you think your medical care needs will be in the coming years. Once you have an idea of what to look for, it’ll make it easier to shop for a plan. And once you know what plan you would like to buy, the next step is to find a company which is financially stable, has a good reputation, and stellar customer service ratings.