Medicare Supplement insurance is an increasingly popular way of protecting your finances if you are on Medicare. If you have “original” Medicare (Parts A & B), you have the option of signing up for a Medicare Supplement plan to fill in the “gaps” in Medicare. Not everyone does this; however, many individuals do sign up for a Medicare Supplement and there are many clear-cut advantages to having a plan like this (also called Medigap), instead of having only Medicare Parts A & B.

1. First and foremost, Medicare Supplement insurance is a security blanket against escalating health care costs. With health care costs skyrocketing in recent years, Medigap plans “cap” your out of pocket exposure. Medicare, by itself, has no cap on out of pocket expenditures, but Medicare Supplements remedy that problem.

2. Medicare Supplements are completely flexible. Coverage is the same in all 50 states, and you can go to any doctor or hospital, nationwide, as long as he/she takes Medicare. This is a great benefit to people who travel or have homes in multiple places, and it stands in contrast to other plan types which are PPO or HMO-based plans.

3. Medigap plans pay through the Medicare “crossover” system, so you do not have to be involved in the claims process. The Medicare claims process is very straight-forward and has proven over time to be very reliable to both doctors and insureds.

4. Medicare, by itself, does not provide full coverage. As previously mentioned, Medicare doesn’t have an out of pocket spending limit. This can be very problematic to someone who has major health problems and does not have a supplement plan. Medicare Supplements make Medicare coverage instantly, significantly more comprehensive.

5. Lastly, Medicare Supplements are Federally-standardized and can be very easy to understand. While it can be very overwhelming to compare Medicare Supplement plans, because there are so many options, the plans are actually Federally-standardized. Every company is required to offer the same plans. So comparing them, based on price and company reputation, is easier than you may think.

6. Medicare supplemental plans cover services that Medicare won’t cover. Medicare doesn’t cover what they consider as “maintenance” services, which means if it’s determined you’re not actually getting better they stop coverage. Many supplemental plans will cover things like cardiac rehabilitation and extended physical therapy services and other things that help to keep you going.

Medicare Supplements have stood the test of time. There have been other insurance products to come and go; however, Medigap plans, although they have changed somewhat, have been relatively stable and consistent. There are many reasons to “supplement” your Medicare with a Medicare Supplement plan. In contrast to recent legislation that may have negative impacts on other plan types, Medigap promises to be a viable plan option long into the future.

Garrett Ball is the owner of Secure Medicare Solutions (SMS), a Medicare Supplement insurance agency. SMS owns and Medicare-Supplement.US, two independent websites that provide a centralized, unbiased place for comparing Medicare Supplement insurance.

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