Medicare Supplemental Insurance or Medigap is a type of health insurance for seniors designed to bridge the coverage gaps left by standard Medicare benefits. Offered by private insurance companies, it's a supplemental health insurance that works in addition to your Original Medicare Plan to pay for certain services not covered by Medicare. Before buying a senior supplemental health insurance policy, you must have Medicare Part A and B (there are rare exceptions to this rule). All new Medigap policies are guaranteed renewable, which means that your insurance company must provide coverage benefits as long as you continue to pay your premium.
Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare Advantage Plans are health plan options (like an HMO or PPO) approved by Medicare and administered by a private insurer. The costs are low because the insurers get generous subsidies from the government to offer these plans. Medicare pays a fixed amount for your care every month to the companies offering Medicare Advantage Plans. Medicare Advantage Plans provide all of your Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage. This means they must cover at least all of the services that Original Medicare covers. However, each Medicare Advantage Plan can charge different out-of-pocket costs. These are usually copayments but can also be coinsurance and deductibles.
Medicare Drug Coverage
Anyone on Medicare (with either Part A or Part B) is entitled to drug coverage (known as Part D) regardless of income. No physical exams are required. You cannot be denied for health reasons or because you already use a lot of prescription drugs. For most people, joining Part D is voluntary. You must enroll in one of the private insurance plans that Medicare has approved to provide it. Some operate nationwide, others only in certain regions of the country. Wherever you live, you can get drug coverage in one of two ways: Through "stand-alone" plans (PDPs) that offer only drug coverage. Or, through Medicare Advantage plans (MA-PDs) that cover both medical services and prescription drugs.
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