understanding your medical insurance policy

Medicare Supplemental Insurance: Will It Help You?

by Peppi Halko

As someone who is older, retired, and no longer getting health insurance through a job, adjusting to Medicare can be challenging. When doing research on the different Medicare plans, you might start to see the phrase "supplemental insurance" pop up. Supplemental insurance (sometimes called Medigap plans) can provide you greater coverage in some cases, but first you've got to think about the issues below to see whether it would work for you.

Do You Have a Chronic Disease?

If you have asthma, heart disease, diabetes, or any kind of other condition that has gone on for some time, you need to be particularly careful about the type of insurance you get. You already know that you will be paying more money for supplies and seeing your doctor more often than people who don't have chronic health problems. Over time, your out-of-pocket expenses can become substantial unless you pay regularly into a supplemental insurance policy.

One thing you need to beware of, however, is purchasing a supplemental plan to cover your regular prescriptions. You might have heard of older relatives whose Medigap plans cover medications. However, after 2006, prescriptions were no longer offered by supplemental insurance. If medication costs are a concern, instead of a Medigap offering, investigate Medicare Advantage or Plan D services. The official website for Medicare can provide enrollment dates.

Even if you don't have any chronic conditions at this time, it's wise to consider whether you could develop one, particularly if your family medical history contains repeated instances of various health issues. When deciding on a plan and whether you're going to need a supplemental policy, think of what could happen in the months and years to come.

Are You Committed to a Particular Doctor?

Like many older people, you might have known a particular physician for many years and feel that they truly understand you and are a good steward of your health. The idea of meeting a new doctor might be undesirable. If you're that committed to your medical doctor, you'll need to first check to see if they're within the network of the Medicare plan you choose. If not, supplemental insurance can enable you to keep them by covering some or all of those visit costs. If you're willing to try new physicians, you may be able to stick with a standard Medicare policy.

It's sometimes difficult to make decisions about supplemental policies that could be beneficial as you get older. Asking these questions and speaking to an expert in both supplemental and Medicare insurance plans is a smart way to make the right choice for your health. Visit sources like Affordable Health and Medicare Plans for help.