Medicare Special Section 2018

Fill gaps in Original Medicare: Ease into a Medicare Supplement plan

Medicare Supplement coverage helps pay health care costs Original Medicare doesn't cover.

Krischa Winright for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Medicare Supplement coverage works with Original Medicare to lower your out-of-pocket and benefit costs.

Medicare supplement coverage, also called Medigap coverage, is a health policy that works together with Original Medicare to lower your out-of-pocket Part A (hospital) and Part B (medical) benefit costs. Before Medicare Advantage’s arrival on the 65-plus health care front, supplement plans were the preferred health plan as they reduce the cost share for services that Medicare already covers.

For instance, a Medicare Supplement insurance policy helps pay some of the health care costs that Original Medicare doesn't cover, like:

  • Copayments
  • Coinsurance
  • Deductibles

They also have the added benefit of being easy to use. Today, as baby boomers age into Medicare, they are once again finding Medicare Supplement plans appealing. Here are some answers as to why:

Q. How does Medigap work with Original Medicare? A. By itself, Original Medicare provides hospital and medical coverage, but it doesn’t cover all health care costs and has deductibles and coinsurance that must be paid before Medicare pays benefits. Original Medicare also limits coverage for certain services. A Medicare supplement plan expands or eliminates Original Medicare coverage limits and, depending on the plan you select, covers all or a portion of your Medicare deductibles and coinsurances.

Q. Are there travel or network limitations? A. Like Original Medicare, Medicare supplement plan coverage is accepted nationwide, and the plans are easy to use. There are no provider networks or referrals — just use any health care provider who accepts Medicare. Simply present your insurance I.D. card along with your red, white and blue Medicare health insurance card whenever you receive health care services. In most cases, you’ll never have to bother with claim filing or paperwork.

Q. How do I choose between a Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage plan? A. There are currently 10 supplement plans (A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M and N) from which to choose. Each plan offers different coverage, and a licensed agent can help you distinguish which is best for you.

Also, Medicare Advantage plans are available for those who desire more comprehensive coverage. A Medicare Advantage plan differs from a Medicare Supplement plan in that it offers additional benefits, such as dental, vision, hearing and prescription drugs. Again, a licensed agent can help you chose a plan and price point that is right for your unique needs.

Krischa Winright

About the expert:

Krischa Winright is Senior Vice President of Business Performance and Development for Senior Health Services at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. She has more than 25 years of health care and technology leadership, with extensive experience in Medicare Advantage and marketing.

Interested in a Medicare Supplement plan? A licensed agent at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan can assist you with choosing a plan that fits your unique needs.