Many people think that when they are eligible for Medicare they will no longer have to pay for any health care needs. While Medicare does cover a wide range of care, it does not pay 100% of all medical bills.

A Medicare Supplement policy is sold by private insurance companies and helps pay some of the costs that Original Medicare does not cover, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles, which can easily add up. In addition, Original Medicare Part A and Part B does not cover overseas emergency health coverage. If you have Original Medicare, you will need to pay for these costs out-of-pocket.

Some people with Original Medicare enroll in a Medicare Supplement (or Medigap) insurance plan which works alongside your Original Medicare coverage. 

Here is how a Medigap policy works--if you have Original Medicare and you buy a Medigap policy, Medicare will pay its share of the Medicare-approved amount for covered health care costs, then your Medigap policy will pay its share. The amount you owe on that specific health care invoice will be reduced or eliminated completely. 

Not everything is covered by Medigap policies either. Medigap policies generally do not cover long-term care, vision or dental care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, or private-duty nursing.

  • You must have Original Medicare Part A and Part B to purchase a Medigap plan.
  • Medigap policies will not work with Medicare Advantage plans.
  • A Medigap policy only covers one person.  If you and your spouse both want Medigap coverage, you will each have to buy separate policies.
  • Medigap policies are standardized and are identified in most states by letters (A-N).
  • Different insurance companies may charge different premiums for the exact same policy.  Use the plan letter to make sure you are comparing the same policies.
  • Any standardized Medigap policy is guaranteed renewable even if you have health problems.  This means the insurance company cannot cancel your Medigap policy as long as you pay the premium.
  • All policies have the same basic benefits but some offer additional benefits so you can choose which one meets your needs.


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