If you enroll in Medicare, Part A pays for care in a hospital or skilled nursing
facility, as well as for home health and hospice care. Medicare Part B pays for treatment
by physicians, outpatient hospital care, durable medical equipment and other medical
services. But Medicare does not pay every medical charge or service. Depending on
your health situation, you could be open to a variety of out-of-pocket medical expenses.
What you need is Supplemental Medicare Plans insurance, also known as Medigap policies,
to cover the gaps left in Original Medicare. Supplemental Medicare Plans policies
are private insurance policies that cover Medicare coinsurance, co-payments and deductibles
that you'd otherwise have to pay yourself. Some Supplemental Medicare Plans policies
also pay for costs not covered by Original Medicare.
The federal government has authorized 10 standardized Supplemental Medicare Plans
policies: Plans A through N. Depending on where you live, all 10 of these standard
policies or only a few, may be offered. If an insurance company wants to sell Supplemental
Medicare Plans policies, it must sell at least Plan A. However, if an insurance company
sells any other type of policy, aside from Plan A, it must also offer Plans C or
To have a Supplemental Medicare Plans policy that's right for your situation, you
need to review the choices annually to make sure your Supplemental Medicare Plans
still fits your needs. Plan A offers a very basic supplement to Medicare coverage.
Plan F offers much more coverage but is also more expensive. In addition, Plans K
and L offer coverage of 50 or 75 percent on certain co-payments, coinsurance and
deductibles. Don't confuse the Supplemental Medicare Plans policy designations with
Medicare Parts A and B.
Supplemental Medicare Plans policies don’t cover long-term care, vision or dental
care, hearing aids, eyeglasses or private-duty nursing. Also, your Supplemental Medicare
Plans will not cover your spouse; you'll each need your own policy.
Supplemental Medicare Plans policies will generally pay most or all of the Medicare
coinsurance amounts and Medicare's deductibles. Certain plans will also pay for emergency
medical care in a foreign country. No plan will cover prescription drugs; for that
you need to sign on with a Medicare prescription plan.