When you enroll in Medicare, it can be confusing. There are dozens of different terms and coverage categories that you will need to understand to ensure that you've got the coverage that you need.
Medicare is an excellent program, but there are plenty of medical expenses that the program doesn't cover. Those left over bills could leave you with thousands and thousands of dollars of expenses.
Every year, the cost of health care continues to creep up. There are millions of seniors that have had their savings accounts drained because of surgery or they needed a specific treatment. You've reached a stage of life where you can finally sit back and enjoy all those years of hard work, but hospital bills can destroy that retirement dream.
There is nothing that you can do about those rising hospital bills, but there are a few ways that you can protect yourself and your finances from being the full weight of them. The best way is to purchase supplemental health care insurance to accompany your Medicare policy.
There are two main options to get additional coverage, either a Medigap policy or a Medicare Advantage plan. Both of them will fill in the gaps left behind by original Medicare, but they operate very differently. Each of them has various pros and cons that you will need to consider to ensure that you're getting the best supplemental coverage available.
What is a Medigap Policy?
Before we start looking at Plan G specifically, let's take a broad look at Medigap plans and why you should purchase one of these plans. Medigap plans are sold by private insurance companies, and they help fill in all of the gaps that original Medicare leaves behind (hence the name Medigap).
As long as you're over the age of 65 and you are enrolled in Medicare, then you can purchase one of these plans. You will then pay monthly premiums to the private insurance company, and you will still be required to pay the premiums for your Part A and B Medicare coverage.
There are ten different plans that you can choose from, depending on which state that you live in. They are all denoted by a letter of the alphabet, from A to N. The plans are standardized by the government, which means that regardless of which company that you buy the plan from, the coverage is going to be the same. The only differences between the available companies is how much you're going to pay every month.
Medicare Supplement Plan G
If you're looking to get a lot of supplemental coverage, Plan G is an excellent choice to do that. Plan G is similar to Plan F in the coverage that it provides (the main difference is that Plan G doesn't cover Part B deductibles, which Plan F will no longer be allowed to pay for), but there are a few distinct differences between the two types of plans. It's important that you compare all of your options before you decide which plan is going to work best for you.
Plan G is one of the more comprehensive plans, meaning that it fills in more holes than some of the other basic plans. There are several key coverage areas of a Plan G that make it the perfect option for some applicants.
There are several important areas of coverage with a Plan G that can give you the additional coverage that you need. One of the most notable is the Part B excess charges, which several of the other plans don't cover. Whenever you go to the hospital or doctor, and you get treated, there is a Medicare Part B approved amount that they have calculated. Legally, the doctor or hospital is allowed to charge 15% over that agreed amount. Without a Medigap policy, you would be responsible for paying for those excess charges yourself. If you have a plan that covers those bills, then you won't have to pay anything out-of-pocket. In most cases, excess charges will be relatively small, but some treatments or services could put a severe strain on your bank account.
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Another important area of coverage is the foreign travel emergency coverage. If you're traveling, and something were to happen to you, then a traditional Medicare plan will not help you pay for any of those expenses. With a Plan G, then you will get coverage for up to 80% of the plan limits. If you plan on doing a lot of traveling in your retirement, it's important that you have the safety net that you and your family will need. If not, a trip to the hospital could ruin your vacation.
Some of the other covered fees are the Medicare Part A hospice care coinsurance and the Part A deductible. Both of these are relatively small expenses, but they can quickly add up to serious bills. Those expenses, coupled with some of the others, could quickly drain your bank account when you need the money the most.
Like the other Medigap plans, Plan G will also pay for inpatient hospital coinsurance and hospital fees for 365 days after your Medicare benefits have been used up. If you were to be diagnosed with a severe health complication, you could find yourself with an extended stay in the hospital. As you probably know, hospital bills can be massive. The longer that you stay, the bigger those bills are going to be. Even with a short stay, it can cost thousands and thousands of dollars. Thankfully, traditional Medicare helps pay for hospital stays, but a Medigap plan will ensure that you have additional coverage if you end up in the hospital longer than you assume you would be.
Enrolling in a Medigap Policy
The next step to getting supplemental coverage is enrolling in the Medigap plan that you choose. Luckily, purchasing one of these policies is easier than you may think. In fact, it's as simple as purchasing any insurance policy.
The first thing that you will need to do is decide which company that you're going to buy the plan from. Because the plans are the same from company to company, the only difference is how much you're going to pay in monthly premiums. It's vital that you compare several companies before you pick one.
The next thing is to determine when your open enrollment period is. This enrollment period is a six-month opportunity that starts the month that you turn 65, and during that time, the insurance company has to accept your application, regardless of your health or any pre-existing conditions that you have.
Another advantage of applying in this 6-month window is that the insurance company cannot charge you higher premiums for your plan, even if you're in poor health. Taking advantage of your open enrollment could save you thousands of dollars every year. If you're in bad health or have a lot of previous health problems, your open enrollment could be your only chance to get supplemental coverage.
After that window is closed, then your application is going to be treated like any other application. The company is going to ask you dozens and dozens of questions about your health and other determining factors to decide how much of a risk you are to accept. If you're too high of a risk, then they will reject your application. Some companies are more liberal than others with their risk assessment, but it can still be hard to find an affordable policy.
If you've already missed the six months, don't worry, there is still a great chance that you can purchase a Medigap plan at a reasonable rate. You can't put a price on the peace of mind that having proper supplemental coverage will give you.
If you have any questions about Medigap Plan G, or any of the other plans that you can buy, feel free to check out some of the other articles that I've written about supplemental coverage. If you are confused by the whole thing, feel free to contact me, or you can call a professional Medigap insurance agent. There are thousands and thousands of agents in the United States that have years of experience helping seniors get the Medigap coverage that we need.
You've finally reached a stage of life where you can sit back and enjoy all of those years of hard work. Don't let some expensive medical bills ruin that.