Because Medicare has some deep holes in the coverage it offers, you have more options to save with Medicare Supplement Insurance (also known as Medigap). These Medigap plans are designed to pay after Medicare pays its share of your medical bills, so you have less out-of-pocket expenses.
Which Medigap plan is right for you?
There are ten Medigap plans, all offering different benefits at different prices. To shop smart, start by making a list of your typical medical expenses for the most recent year. That may take some checking of previous bills, but it will give you a good idea of what you’re actually spending on health care. With that in mind, you can start looking for the right Medigap Plan that focuses on your biggest healthcare costs.
Another way you can save on health care is by using preventative services. Stopping a health problem early is usually not only cheaper, but also a lot easier. Once you’ve found a Medigap plan that takes a bite out of your out-of-pocket medical costs, look for plans that cover the preventive services you need, such as cancer and heart disease screening. You are more likely to stay healthy if you monitor your health with regular checkups.
Then see if the plans you like give you access to your preferred doctors and hospitals. If so, you’re more likely to have regular checkups. Medigap plans usually have a list of medical providers, so you can be sure that your doctors are on the list.
See what co-pays, if any, apply to doctor’s office and emergency room visits. Co-pays are what you pay, even with Medicare coverage, such as $20 for doctor visits and $50 for emergency room trips, and they can add up quickly when you need these services frequently.
Getting help paying Medicare deductibles can also save you big. You must meet the Medicare Part A deductible when you are hospitalized as an inpatient, and that deductible is $1,100 per illness in 2010. Fortunately, most Medigap plans reimburse you for this deductible, even if the amount increases from year to year.
How do you get the best value for your money with Medigap insurance?
Keep a separate list for each plan you are considering. Write down what you actually made for doctor visits, ER trips, hospitalizations, lab tests, prescriptions, and so on. Then check whether a particular Medigap Plan would have covered those costs. Do this with any medical expenses you expect this year that you didn’t have before. This kind of organized comparison lets you see which plan will save you the most, but you’re not quite done yet.
Insurers charge different prices for the same plan. That means that once you’re sure which plan will give you the greatest savings, you’ll need to contact several insurers and compare prices for that plan. If you see yourself paying less for health care, you’ll be glad you took the time to do some homework.