For those 65 and older participating in traditional Medicare, it’s the time of year to select a Medicare Supplement plan. Also known as Medigap or Medicare Part B, these plans help pay for costs not covered by Medicare Part A.
It can sometimes be challenging to know whether to stay with your current plan or consider a different one. As you age and your needs change, it’s a good idea to review your situation every few years to make sure you are choosing the best plan.
One helpful resource is <https://Medicare.gov”>Medicare.gov, which has a wealth of information and resources to help you understand and compare plans. Use the information on that website and the following three steps to help you determine the best plan choice:
Start by estimating your expected health care expenses for the upcoming year. Take a look at your costs for the current year and think about what might change for the forthcoming year. Write down both the costs and how much you paid.
If you know you are planning to have a procedure, such as a knee replacement, in the upcoming year, get the procedure code from your doctor. You can then go to Medicare.gov to compare national average prices for procedures and learn how much the patient is generally responsible for paying.
Review the Medigap standardized plans to see coverage options. All Medigap plans carry a letter designation, such as “C,” to denote the type of plan. All plans with the same letter code provide the same coverage, no matter what company offers them.
Coverage varies according to the letter code of the plan. For example, some plans cover 100% of some benefits, some plans offer coverage when traveling to foreign countries, and some plans pay lower percentages of benefits until the insured reaches an out-of-pocket limit.
<https://Medicare.gov”>Medicare.gov posts the information on the coverage provided by each plan letter code. Review your estimated expenses against the coverage information and write down how much of the total you could expect to pay under the various plans.
Select the two or three most favorable plan letter codes, then compare premiums. <https://Medicare.gov”>Medicare.gov can steer you toward companies offering plans in your area; then, you can contact several companies for pricing. Pricing can be the same regardless of age or be based on either the age of the insured at policy issue or the age attained by the insured.
Calculate the annual premium for each company and add it to your previous expenses estimate. You’ll have a clearer picture of which companies and plan types will save the most money.
By taking the time to do this exercise every few years, you can stay on top of your choices and be confident you are selecting a Medigap plan wisely.