People who are newly eligbile for Medicare often feel overwhelmed by all of the Medicare supplemental insurance plans available to them. There are three primary parts of Medicare: Part A, Part B and Part D. Supplement insurance is designed to cover medical expenses that are not covered by Medicare, including copayments, deductibles and coinsurance. Medicare supplemental insurance policies can only cover medical expenses that have been deemed medically necessary by Medicare. Some plans offer additional coverage that Medicare doesn’t, such as coverage if you have a medical emergency in a foreign country.
Medicare supplemental insurance benefits are set by the government, but the actual policies are sold by privately-owned insurance companies. These policies are automatically renewed each year so that you are never without coverage unless you cancel it. Be aware that you may not be eligible to purchase a new policy if you drop your current Medicare supplement insurance policy.
Some people don’t need to purchase Medicare supplemental insurance, such as those who are covered by health insurance through COBRA or their employer. People who are covered by Medicaid also don’t need to purchase supplemental insurance because all of the medical costs that are not covered by Part A are paid by Medicaid. It’s important to note that there may be a penalty if you delay purchasing Medicare Part B coverage, so you should talk to the Social Security Administration about your individual situation to ensure that no penalty will be assessed if you delay coverage until retirement.
State and federal laws allow employees who have left their jobs to continue being covered by group insurance through their former employer for a set amount of time as long as they pay the required premiums. People who are covered through COBRA may not need Medicare supplement insurance until their coverage expires. You may still be subject to penalties if you don’t enroll in Part B coverage by the deadline because COBRA is not considered the same as employer-sponsored health plans.