May 29, 2024

With one out of every 10 Americans carrying some kind of medical debt, you aren’t alone if you think you could use some extra help. A standard Medicare plan pays for a lot, but there are some necessary costs that it just won’t cover.

If you find yourself struggling with medical payments even though you have Medicare, supplemental Medicare insurance might be for you.

Supplemental Medicare insurance—also known as Medigap—can pay for medical costs that Medicare won’t cover. Keep reading to find out more about Medigap insurance and discover its benefits.

What Is a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Plan?

A Medigap plan is a private health insurance plan that fills in the “gaps” in Original Medicare.

A regular Medicare plan will cover around 80% of approved medical costs. A Medigap plan can help with that remaining 20%. It’s similar to a Medicare Advantage plan but with some important differences.

Medicare Advantage typically has lower premiums and sometimes includes services like gym memberships.

However, Advantage plans won’t offer coverage for every healthcare provider who accepts Medicare. They also don’t provide coverage while traveling, and you risk having higher out-of-pocket expenses and emergency costs with one.

Meanwhile, Medigap plans offer some handy benefits that Medicare Advantage plans don’t. In this next section, we’ll discuss five ways that Medigap can benefit your standard Medicare plan. Keep in mind that benefits vary from one plan to another.

1. Get Out-of-Pocket Expenses Paid For

Medicare is great, but it doesn’t pay for everything. Even when you’re on Medicare, you’ll likely have many out-of-pocket expenses that are up to you to pay for.

These out-of-pocket costs include coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles. This can be particularly helpful if you have costly deductibles on multiple medications.

Some Medigap plans will even help pay for additional medical benefits, such as the first three pints of blood if needed.

However, keep in mind that Medicare Supplement plans don’t usually cover services like vision, dental, or hearing aids. If you have medical needs like these, you’ll probably either have to pay for them yourself or get a specialized insurance plan.

2. Have Extended Hospital Stays Covered

Between regular medical care and a healthy lifestyle, hopefully, you can keep things like extended hospital stays out of the cards. However, sometimes even healthy people need longer-term hospital care. Just in case, it pays to be prepared.

Unfortunately, Medicare only covers hospital stays up to a certain duration. To avoid high medical bills after reaching a certain limit, you’ll need a supplementary insurance plan.

The good news is that some Medigap plans cover hospital costs up to an additional year after standard Medicare benefits are used up. A Medigap plan should also cover Medicare Part A coinsurance for things like hospital visits.

3. Get Hospice Coinsurance or Copayment Covered

Thinking about end-of-life preparations might not be pleasant, but it’s a reality that everyone has to deal with at some point. One end-of-life service that many families and individuals count on is hospice care.

While that kind of intense at-home care can be very expensive if paid out-of-pocket, Medicare combined with supplemental Medicare insurance can help.

While Medicare will cover many, if not most, hospice expenses, there will still be some expenses that Medicare won’t pay by itself. Things like hospice coinsurance or copayment can be paid by an appropriate Medigap plan.

4. Continue to Receive Coverage While Overseas

Perhaps nothing is more terrifying than the prospect of being far away from home and needing sudden medical care. If you occasionally travel overseas, it’s imperative that your medical insurance provides coverage internationally.

However, Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans usually don’t cover care administered overseas. But some Medicare Supplement plans do.

Even if you only travel rarely, it’s a very good idea to ensure your healthcare will be valid everywhere. Nothing can replace the peace of mind from knowing that, no matter where you are or what happens, you’ll be covered in the event of an emergency.

5. Get Coverage With the Same Providers Who Accept Medicare

Few things are more annoying—or more upsetting—than starting a new health insurance plan only to realize your preferred provider might not be covered.

Unfortunately, this is one of the downsides of dealing with health insurance. Like it or not, no health insurance plan will have every care provider in its network.

Because of this, when you’re signing up with private health insurance or Medicare Advantage, you’ll want to double-check that your care provider is in-network. However, with Medigap, this is one thing you won’t have to worry about.

If you already have a medical provider covered by Medicare, any Medicare Supplement plan will also cover care from that provider. That way, you can keep the doctor you know and trust, even after you start your Medigap plan.

Supplemental Medicare Insurance: Consider Your Options Today

There’s no denying that supplemental Medicare insurance can be incredibly valuable. Depending on your lifestyle and medical needs, Medigap might be just the thing you need to help cover those out-of-pocket expenses.

Just be sure to do your research before making a decision. Medigap is a great option for many, but you need the right option for you.

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