Imagine being faced with the choice between 10 different flavors of ice cream. A difficult decision to make already, but instead of their straightforward names like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, they are labeled by letters of the alphabet. Flavor A, Flavor B, so on and so forth. So instead of making an informed decision based on the names that you know and understand, you can only glance at the containers and hope that one flavor will appease your sweet tooth. Medicare supplement plans work in this way as well. There is a wide array of options, each varying slightly from the last, but you need to do some digging in order to figure out which plan is which. Sure, any flavor of ice cream is still a cold and creamy treat, but when you feel like you are making an uninformed decision, that can leave a bitter taste in your mouth no matter what flavor you select.
Medicaid Supplements may not be as sweet as a big scoop of Rocky Road, but they do all offer to sweeten the deal of your Medicaid coverage. These add-on insurance policies (often referred to as Medigap) fill in the gaps left behind from your standard Medicaid plan. While basic coverage may work for a select few, many people prefer – and require – the peace of mind that comes with dental, vision, or Part A and B coinsurance.
The first step to finding out what supplement you require is to target where the holes are in your current plan. If you are bleeding money through eye doctor visits (see dental and vision plans here) or consistently being left to pay 20% of outpatient treatments, then you may want to target a supplement that offers coverage for those two areas. Wherever your needs lie, there is a Medigap that will serve you. The trick is finding the balance of the coverage that you need without paying for services that you won’t use.
Medicare Supplement Plan Options
One of the most confusing things about picking a Medicare supplement is figuring out what the plans offer. While each standardized plan is regulated by state and federal law, that doesn’t mean it is as simple to identify as a scoop of chocolate ice cream. Each plan offers nuances with cost, coverage, and terms. To make matters even more muddled, the policies are designated by one of 10 letters of the alphabet spanning from A to N. However, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin standardize their policies in a different way. You will have to compare your policy options dependent on your state’s guidelines. These three states tend to make things a little more black and white when it comes to making a choice – like the very straightforward decision of choosing between chocolate and vanilla.
While all 10 Medicare supplement insurance policies are available in every state, it is up to the individual insurance company which policies they sell. Because companies may offer different policy options than their competitor, you don’t only need to shop around for the right plan, you need to shop around for the company that carries that plan as well. Some states have regulations on what plans are sold, and many require companies to Medigap Plan A, Plan C or Plan F. If you are trying to find a plan that covers all your needs it is best to look at them side by side. Plus, legislation that goes into effect January 1, 2020 will change what Plan types are available to which Medicare beneficiaries.
Sure, it is nice to see things laid out side by side. But when the terms in the explanations are unfamiliar to you – or the raisins look like chocolate chips – it can mislead you to choose a policy that doesn’t fit your needs.
Many of these additional policies and separate Medicare plans have a lot of fine print loaded with insurance jargon. As a regular Medicare participant, you may assume that medications would be covered under at least one of the Medigap plans, but that benefit will require an entirely separate policy such as Medicare Part D. There are many nuances like this that come along with the countless moving parts that make up the Medicare system. If you feel like you are blindly selecting a plan that you only hope will give you the coverage you need, be sure to talk to an agent first. This will not only give you peace of mind when it comes time to use your benefits, but you will hopefully walk away with that sweet feeling of knowing you made the right decision.