If you've paid attention to the news in the past decade, you know that health care is almost always the center of attention. Congress is always looking for ways to improve health care, which means there is constantly changes to health care and Medicare laws. That makes it difficult to keep up with and ensure that you've got the best coverage available.
Health care costs and medical bills continue to go up every year. There is nothing that you can do to stop them from getting more and more expensive. If you're enrolled in Medicare, you might assume that you will have all the protection that you need, but that isn't true. If you have traditional Medicare parts A and B, then there are a dozen different expense categories that your Medicare coverage is not going to pay for.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from those massive hospital bills is to purchase additional insurance coverage through a Medicare Supplement Plan.
What is a Medicare Supplement Plan?
Before we look at the specifics of Medicare Supplement Plan L (also called Medigap Plan L), looks take a general look at what these plans are how they operate. These policies are sold by private insurance companies, and it works to fill in the gaps that are left behind by the traditional Medicare coverage. There are ten different plans that you can choose from, and all of them are going to provide different coverage or portions of coverage.
All of the plans are denoted by a letter of the alphabet, from A to N. Some plans are going to provide basic coverage like Plan A, while others are going to offer much more comprehensive coverage, like Plan G and Plan F. The smaller policies are going to be much more affordable than the plans that fill in more of the coverage holes. It's important that you pick the plan that's going to work best for you.
One important thing to take note of is that Medigap plans are standardized by the government. Regardless of which company that you purchase the supplemental plan form, they are required to provide the exact same coverage. The only difference between companies is any additional benefits and how much you'll pay in premiums.
Medigap Plan L
Now that we've looked at the basics of Medigap plans, we can look at the specific coverage of the Plan L. Plan L is one of the most unique supplemental plans that you can purchase. Unlike some plans that cover whole portions of expense categories, Plan L covers portions of the majority of expenses.
Before we look at what Plan L covers, you should know that Plan L is one of the most basic policies, which means that it tends to be cheaper than some of the other options. If you're looking to save money on your additional protection, then a Plan L could be an excellent choice for you.
With Plan L, you will get full coverage for the Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs for an additional 365 days after your traditional Medicare coverage has expired. If you've ever had to stay in the hospital for a night or two, you know how expensive it can be. With traditional Medicare, you will get 60 days of $0 coinsurance, after that it's $329 coinsurance per day for an additional 30 days, and after that, it's $658 until the end of that benefit period. You don't have to be excellent at math to realize that you could rack up some serious medical bills if you're stuck in the hospital. Having additional coverage will ensure that you aren't responsible for huge hospital bills that could drain your bank account.
Aside from the hospital bills, you'll also get 75% five other categories. You will get three-fourths coverage for Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayments. Depending on the hospice care coverage that you receive, it could end up being a large bill, but thanks to your Medigap coverage, you won't have to pay for all of those bills out-of-pockets.
You will also have 75% protection for the Medicare Part A deductible. The deductible can change every year, but for 2017 it's $1,316. You are required to meet that deductible before your Medicare coverage kicks in. With your Medigap policy, it's going to help pay for some of that deductible.
The last three coverage categories are the Part B coinsurance/copayment, the first three pints of blood used for any medical procedure, and the skilled nursing facility care coinsurance. You will get 75% coverage for all of these categories.
Unlike other Medigap policies, Plan L coverage has a maximum out-of-pocket limit. Once you reach that point, you will start receiving 100% coverage for all of the categories. Plan L is one of the two plans that have an out-of-pocket limit, which is $2,560. This is a nice advantage that other plans don't have.
Choosing the Plan Best for You
Trying to decide between the ten plans can be confusing. It's vital that you make the best decision for your health care needs. There are a couple of key areas that you will need to look at to ensure that you're getting the best plan for you.
The first area that you should consider is your finances. You want to make sure that you can comfortably afford the additional coverage that you apply for. The goal of your Medigap plan is to protect your finances to ensure that it isn't drained from medical expenses, but it shouldn't break your bank every month. Look at your budget to decide how much you can spend every month on that supplemental health care coverage.
The next factor that you should look at is your health. The purpose of your Medigap plan is to ensure that you're getting the health care attention that you need without draining your retirement savings account. If you're in excellent health and you don't have any serious health complication, then you can consider purchasing a smaller policy that doesn't fill in all of the gaps. These plans are going to be much more affordable than other options. On the other hand, if you have several health problems, then you should consider purchasing a more comprehensive plan that gives you all the additional coverage that you need.
Enrolling in a Medigap Plan
Once you've decided which plan is going to work best for you, Plan L or otherwise, you need to decide when you're going to enroll in your policy. Purchasing one of these supplemental insurance plans is easy. All you have to do is contact a licensed Medigap insurance agent, and they can walk you through the process.
What's more important of which plan that you buy, WHEN you buy the plan is going to make a huge impact on your Medigap coverage. It's important that you take advantage of your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This is a six-month window that begins the month that you turn 65. During this time, the insurance company can't reject your application, regardless of your health or any pre-existing conditions that you have. If you're in poor health, this could be your only chance for getting supplemental insurance protection.
Additionally, during the open enrollment period, the insurance company can't increase your premiums, even if you have several health problems. After the six-month window has closed, your application will be treated like any other application, which means that they will be allowed your raise your premiums based on your health. Taking advantage of the open enrollment period can save you thousands of dollars every year. If you've already missed your time frame, don't' worry, there is still a good chance to get supplemental coverage at an affordable price.
Questions about Medigap Coverage?
I know that getting supplemental Medicare coverage can be difficult, but it's one of the most important purchases that you'll ever make. The older that you get, the more that you're going to spend on health care. Depending on your health, you could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, but that's where your Medigap plan will come in.
If you have any questions about Medigap coverage or you need assistance in deciding which plan is going to work for you, please feel free to contact an experienced agent or me today. Additionally, you can check out my other posts about the Medigap options. I've outlined each of the options to give you the information that you need to pick the perfect policy.