4 Reasons to Get a Medicare Supplemental Policy

When you think of Medicare, do you think of the fact that it covers your medical needs and not much else? You might be surprised to learn that Medicare doesn’t provide blanket coverage for your doctor visits, major surgical events, or your prescriptions. Things like the donut hole for prescriptions can leave you on the hook for expensive medications. And there’s the fact that Part A, B, and D all have deductibles you need to meet. When compared to private health insurance, these costs are typically much lower. But if you’re retired and on a fixed income, you have to find the money to pay for these costs. Here are some reasons why you should get a Medicare supplemental policy.

How a Supplemental Policy Fills in the Holes

Image via Flickr by Shawn Campbell

A supplemental insurance policy, also known as a Medigap policy, helps cover some health care costs so you don’t wind up paying out of pocket. That includes paying the deductibles in Parts A and B, deductibles, and covering coinsurance costs that come from a stay in a skilled nursing facility or hospital and when durable medical equipment is required. When you need a medical service that’s not completely covered by Medicare, your Medicare supplemental insurance policy steps in and pays the bills that Medicare doesn’t.

Increase Your Coverage 

Medicare supplemental insurance comes in 10 different plans with varying levels of coverage. All plans have the benefit of covering costs that Medicare won’t, but some have more coverage than others. When you take on one of these plans, you get more out of Medicare without paying more out of pocket.

Physicians who accept Medicare are required by law to charge only the amount that’s set by Medicare and nothing more. They also have to wait for Medicare to pay before asking you to pay your deductible or coinsurance payment. In the event you want to see a physician that’s not accepting Medicare in general, but will accept Medicare so you can continue to receive care, they are allowed to charge up to 15 percent more than the amount that Medicare would pay them if they were a participating provider. A Medigap policy may cover the extra charge, although you may be required to pay the cost of the office visit until Medicare pays the physician unless the physician has stated in advance they won’t charge you.

Receive Care Anywhere In the World

Running into a medical emergency in a foreign country means incurring a medical bill that can be difficult to resolve because you’re not a resident of the country. Medicare doesn’t pay anything whatsoever toward health care service you receive in a foreign country. However, a Medicare supplemental insurance policy typically provides coverage for up to 80 percent of the charges you’re billed after a stay in a foreign hospital. You need to make sure that you get a plan that covers costs from a foreign hospital as not all of the plans have that feature.

Dental and Vision Benefits That Save You Money

Medicare doesn’t consider the coverage of dental and vision as something that’s medically necessary. Many would disagree with this assessment, but the bottom line is that Medicare won’t pay for these needs even though they’re necessary for quality of life. And, strictly speaking, a Medigap plan enhances and extends Medicare coverage, which means that it won’t cover dental and vision as a rule.

However, a Medigap plan can offer dental and vision coverage as an additional benefit on the policy or in conjunction with the supplemental insurance policy. What is covered depends on the policy, but most of the time you can expect a plan to provide coverage for preventative and restorative dental work, along with eye exams and frames for vision.

A Medicare supplemental policy has the potential to save you a lot of money in medical costs over its lifetime. Medigap is designed to enhance the help that Medicare offers, giving you more comprehensive coverage and offering more options than you would otherwise get with Medicare alone.

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