In the months leading up to Original Medicare enrollment, you should decide whether you want to add a Medicare Supplement policy to help increase your coverage. The decision can be confusing, but it doesn’t need to be.
Use the explanations and table below to get a clearer understanding of your options.
Original Medicare (Parts A & B) is the main building block of health care for American seniors. In 2014, 54.1 million people were enrolled in Medicare, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. You can enroll in just Original Medicare, enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan which provides at least same benefits as Original Medicare, or you can increase your coverage by buying a Medicare Supplement policy.
Medicare Supplement insurance (Medigap) policies help pay for the large out-of-pocket costs that come with your Original Medicare coverage. In 2014, about 11.2 million people were enrolled in a Medigap policy, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans.
Review the table below to compare how Original Medicare works on its own or with a Medicare Supplement policy.
|Original Medicare only||Original Medicare + Medicare Supplement (Medigap)|
|Summary||You get basic hospital & medical coverage from the government. You pay the deductibles, co-payments & extra costs that come with that coverage yourself.||You get basic hospital & medical coverage from the government. You pay a private insurer to cover the deductibles, co-payments & extra costs that come with that coverage.|
|Providers||Benefits are paid by the Federal government.||Original Medicare benefits are paid by the Federal government. Medigap benefits are paid by private insurance companies.|
|Popularity||54.1 million enrollees in Medicare Part A and/or B in 2014.||11.2 million enrollees in 2014.|
|Eligibility||You must be at least 65 & a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident. If you are under 65, you may qualify if you have a disability.||Same eligibility as Original Medicare. You cannot have a Medicare Supplement policy and a Medicare Advantage policy at the same time.|
|Plan parts||Medicare Parts A & B||Medicare Parts A & B + 1 of 10 Medigap plan options|
|Plan standards||All Original Medicare Plans are exactly the same.||All Original Medicare Plans are exactly the same. There are 10 Medigap plan options to choose from. The options are standardized by the government and are the exact same from insurer to insurer. The 10 plans are available in most states, although Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have different options.|
|Benefits||Hospital insurance benefits + medical insurance benefits||Original Medicare benefits + Medigap coverage for deductibles, co-insurance, and other costs not covered by Original Medicare.|
|Premiums||Part A is usually free. If not, it costs up to $411 each month.
Part B has a monthly premium of at least $105.
|Original Medicare premium + Medigap policy premium|
Some plans pay for all of these extra costs.
|Who accepts it||Any doctor or hospital that accepts Original Medicare.||Any doctor or hospital that accepts Original Medicare.|
|Prescription coverage||You must add Medicare Part D to get drug coverage.||You must add Medicare Part D to get drug coverage.|
|Renewal||Renewed each year as long as the Part B premium is paid.||Original Medicare coverage is renewed each year as long as the Part B premium is paid.
Medigap policies are renewed each year unless the initial application contained errors or the premium is not paid.