A Medicare plan finder is hard to find (pardon the play on words). If you’ve even casually checked into Medicare, you already know that the choices are dizzying and confusing. Medigap. Part B. Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage. Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. What do all those letters mean? What are all those programs and the differences among them?
The WebMD Description:
Medigap is extra health insurance that you buy from a private company to pay health care costs not covered by Original Medicare, such as co-payments, deductibles, and health care if you travel outside the U.S. Medigap policies don’t cover long-term care, dental care, vision care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, and private-duty nursing. Most plans do not cover prescription drugs.
You pay a monthly premium for a Medigap policy.
Medigap policies are only available to people who already have Medicare Part A, which helps pay for hospital services, and Medicare Part B, which covers the cost for doctor services. People who have a Medicare Advantage plan cannot get a Medigap plan.
According to eHealth Medicare:
Medicare Part B (medical insurance) is part of Original Medicare and covers services and supplies that are medically necessary to treat your health condition. This can include outpatient care, preventive services, ambulance services, and durable medical equipment. It also covers part-time or intermittent home health and rehabilitative services, such as physical therapy, if they are ordered by a doctor to treat your condition.
Some of the preventive services Medicare Part B covers include a one-time “Welcome to Medicare” physical exam, flu and hepatitis B shots, cardiovascular screenings, cancer screenings, diabetes screenings, and more. If you are in a Medicare Advantage plan, you would get both your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage through a private health insurance company contracted with Medicare. By law, Medicare Advantage plans must offer at least the same level of coverage as Original Medicare, and some plans include additional coverage not included in Original Medicare such as routine dental and/or vision, hearing, and even prescription drug coverage.
Medicare Advantage Plans cover all of the services that Original Medicare covers. However, if you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan, Original Medicare will still cover the cost of hospice care, some new Medicare benefits, and some costs for clinical research studies. In all types of Medicare Advantage Plans, you’re always covered for emergency and urgently needed care.
The plan can choose not to cover the costs of services that aren’t medically necessary under Medicare. If you’re not sure whether a service is covered, check with your provider before you get the service.
Most Medicare Advantage Plans offer extra coverage, like vision, hearing, dental, and/or health and wellness programs. Most include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D). In addition to your Part B premium, you usually pay a monthly premium for the Medicare Advantage Plan.
Instead of turning away in horror, tap the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) for answers. SHIPs (http://bit.ly/2sPGBrS) offers free one-on-one counseling to help you decipher the options and pick the plan that best fits your needs.
The federally-funded program is available in all 50 states as well as in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Find the nearest SHIPs office here: http://bit.ly/1OU0sfN