Health care reform has sparked heavy debate regarding the appropriate supplement for Medicare. It is widely known that seniors ages 65 and above are eligible for government medical aid (Medicare) to assist in healthcare cost. Medicare covers a portion of senior’s medical cost. Although government assistance is available, many seniors still lack ample funds to cover the holes in Medicare. Thus, seniors are left to decide whether to adopt a Medicare advantage plan or to simply adopt a supplement for Medicare.
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Though this segment is dedicated to the appropriate supplement for Medicare it is prudent to explain differences in what Medicare advantage plans would provide as well. As stated above traditional Medicare covers certain medical needs for seniors. The government covers (by paying doctors and hospitals) certain senior medical needs based on a fee for service schedule. There are options for seniors to be covered by an advantage plan with 0 out of pocket monthly. It goes without saying that where one medical plan may be ideal for an individual; the same medical plan may fall short of covering another individual’s needs. Advantage plans are plans in which the government pays insurers a specific amount monthly for every Medicare member that they enroll (the plans cover hospitals and doctors as well). Individuals covered under advantage plans are able to choose HMO plans which require advantage recipients to choose from a network of health care providers as well as PPO plans which allow for in network providers as well as out of network providers. It should be noted that individuals going outside of the network would likely have to pay additional fees. All advantage plans offer the same benefits (regardless of the insurer). However, the benefit to the Medicare Advantage plans is that they cover things such as hearing, vision and dental care whereas traditional Medicare plans do not. Medicare Advantage has become increasingly popular due to the advantages provided over and above traditional Medicare. However, that is precisely the issue that critics raise. Advantage plans are said to “pay out” more than traditional Medicare plans. The congressional budget office has estimated that over 150 billion additional dollars has been spent in the last 10 years on advantage plans (that would not have been spent with standard Medicare). Ultimately, the additional expenditures mean more money spent by taxpayers. Which is why Medicare Advantage plans have been targeted by government and health care reform.
With Medicare Advantage plans being heavily scrutinized and funding likely to be cut at least to some extent, supplements are becoming more appealing. Where advantage plans offer 0 out of pocket, a supplement for Medicare would require some payment by the senior. Where advantage plans replace traditional Medicare, a supplement for Medicare is literally that…a supplement that covers certain holes left by traditional Medicare. Therefore, Medicare is considered the primary plan and a supplement for Medicare is considered secondary to the plan. Medigap plans are also offered through private insurers at specific cost. Medicare supplement plans are also considered medigap plans as they fill the gaps left by Medicare. Gaps such as Deductibles, Coinsurance and Co-pays can be filled with an appropriate supplement for Medicare. Any doctor that accepts Medicare should accept a supplement for Medicare. Medicare participants must be enrolled in Medicare part b in order to be eligible to buy a Medigap plan. Medicare part b covers things like doctor services, outpatient care, home health services as well as some preventative services. There are several Medigap plans available and participants typically need not go through underwriting if they will attain the age of 65 within the next 6 months(and two months following their 65th birthday). Open enrollment occurs from November 15th through December 31st and this is the time that changes may be made by existing supplement users. Medigap options vary and are labeled A through L. Each plan offers different options to fill the holes left by traditional Medicare plans. Core benefits include hospital coverage for specific periods during Medicare benefit period, approved hospital cost for co-payments during specific periods, skilled nursing coinsurance, doctor deductibles, foreign travel emergency coverage, at home recovery, drug benefit as well as preventative care. Benefits vary from plan to plan and may be viewed in the Medicare handbook. You may also view supplement for Medicare options by searching Medicare resources at the Texas low cost health insurance site.