If you qualify for Medicare Part A hospital benefits and Medicare Part B outpatient medical benefits, you may also qualify for a Medicare supplemental plan. Two main types of Medicare supplemental plans are available: Part D prescription drug plans and Medigap plans. Part D plans provide prescription drug coverage which is not available under Medicare Part A or B. Medigap provides coverage for gaps in Medicare Part A and B coverage, such as coverage that exceeds certain maximums or services that are not fully covered.
Eligibility for Medicare supplemental plans is simple: you must be eligible for Medicare. Medicare eligibility requires that you either be disabled by Social Security Administration standards and qualify medically for Social Security disability or be over the age of 65.
Medicare supplemental plans are provided by private insurance companies, including United Healthcare, AARP, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana and more. These plans must follow rules set forth by Medicare.
The cost of Medicare supplemental plans varies significantly, since each provider sets its own rates. Depending on the level of coverage and your needs, premiums for plans vary from free to over $100 per month. However, the individual is not responsible for the total cost of the plan, since the plans are subsidized–the federal government pays a significant portion of the total plan’s cost.
You may enroll in Medicare supplemental plans at any time and you may request to switch plans at any time. However, if you enroll or switch plans outside of the open enrollment period, you may be penalized. Your premiums, co-payments and other out-of-pocket expenses associated with the plan may be higher. Your initial enrollment period is dependent upon when you first became eligible for Medicare. Open enroillment typically takes place between November and January but may be longer depending on your specific circumstances. You may enroll in Medicare supplemental plans at medicare.gov.