With some exceptions, most citizens of the United States are eligible to begin receiving Medicare Part A benefits when they are 65 years old. Medicare Part A is a government-run health insurance program that provides hospitalization coverage for enrollees.
Care given in a hospital setting is provided under Medicare Part A. All outpatient care is covered by the voluntary program called Medicare Part B. Medicare Part B pays for things such as doctor office visits, laboratory and x-ray service received in an outpatient setting along with preventive health services. Unlike Part A which most folks get automatically, Part B requires you to enroll and have the monthly premium deducted from your Social Security benefit amount each month.
Although Medicare Part B is voluntary, the Social Security Administration automatically enrolls you in the program. If you do not want Part B you may refuse it by completing the program waiver sent to you with the notice that you are now eligible to participate in Medicare.
Nearly all people who have traditional Medicare (Part A and Part B) enroll for supplemental insurance known as Gap Filler or Medigap insurance. Although Medicare is a great program, there are coverage gaps such as deductibles and co-pays. These deductibles and coinsurance amounts are found in both Part A and Part B. This coverage is important as it picks up whatever Medicare will not cover – both in the hospital as well as outpatient care. Also, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid automatically send your claim balance to your supplemental carrier for payment after Medicare has paid its share of your bill.
In order to help consumers better understand Medicare supplemental insurance, the federal government standardized all plans. There are many plans available and they are designated by a letter; currently they are Supplemental Policy A through Supplemental Policy N. Each letter Plan offers coverage that differs from another letter plan, but the benefits offered with each letter plan are identical no matter what insurance carrier you purchase it from. Click here to see all available plans.
This means that a plan endorsed by a particular organization offers the same benefits as a plan that is not endorsed. The federal government does not recommend any insurance carrier. Plan costs vary by insurance carrier and the difference can be more than $100 per month depending on which supplemental coverage you choose. But, only the price varies — benefits for all Plan A’s are the same regardless of the insurance company.
Since the only variable is price, getting quotes from different companies is a must! It makes no sense to buy a plan that is more expensive because some celebrity says it is a good deal. He/she is paid to tell you that.
A better idea is to use an independent insurance agent. The agent will help you navigate through the numerous plans available and then find the plan you want at the best price.