Medicare Supplement Plans And Other Terminology

Are you almost 65? Is this your first experience with Medicare? From Medicare supplement policies to Parts A, B, C, and more, take a look at the top Medicare terms every senior needs to know.

Medicare Supplements

Also known as Medigap, a supplement is exactly what the name implies. This type of policy "supplements" your Original Medicare insurance. Even though Medicare may pay for a significant portion of your medical or hospital costs (depending on which parts you have), it won't cover everything. 

Supplement plans fill in the gaps and help to pay for out-of-pocket expenses such as copays, coinsurance, or deductibles. To enroll in a Medigap plan you must have Medicare Parts A and B. Unlike your old employer-based or self-pay policy, this type of plan won't cover your spouse or family members. If your spouse also wants a Medigap plan, they'll need to purchase their own policy.

You can purchase a Medigap plan from any insurer that is licensed in your state to sell these plans. Discuss what the policy covers and monthly premium costs with the insurance company before you enroll. If you already have a Medicare Advantage plan you aren't eligible for a Medigap policy.

Medicare Advantage

What is a Medicare Advantage plan? It's easy to confuse an Advantage plan with a Medigap policy. Both plans pay for more than Original Medicare and both are sold by private insurance companies. But this doesn't mean the plans are the same. Unlike a supplement, Medicare Advantage plans cover the costs Parts A and B pay for. These plans also often cover some prescription drug costs.

Medicare Parts

Supplements fill in the gaps Parts A and B don't cover and Advantage plans include Parts A and B. Before you can understand what this means, you may need to learn more about the different Medicare parts. Some of the Medicare parts are free, while others will require you to pay a premium. 

Part A covers hospital-related costs. It may also pay for inpatient skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and some home health care expenses. This part is free for most people. Part B pays for outpatient services, such as visits to your primary care physician (PCP) or some specialists. Even though Parts A and B are the primary types of Medicare, you can also purchase Parts C and D coverage. Part C is another name for Medicare Advantage plans and Part D covers prescription medications. Contact a medical insurance service to learn more Medicare supplement information.