‘Medigap’ insurance coverage is changing

A number of changes are coming to health insurance plans that supplement Medicare’s coverage, which are commonly known as “Medigap” plans.

Medicare doesn’t cover all medical expenses – even if you have Medicare, you’re still responsible for co-payments, deductibles, and items that are excluded from coverage. To supplement Medicare’s coverage, you can purchase a Medigap policy from a private insurer.

There are currently 12 different Medigap plans available, identified by the letters A through L. Each plan offers a different combination of benefits, allowing you to choose the combination that is right for you.

Beginning June 1, 2010, plans E, H, I, and J will no longer be sold. If you already have one of these plans, you can keep it for as long as you like, but no new policies will be sold.

At the same time, two new plans – M and N – will be added. Plan M will pay 50 percent of the Part A deductible and some of the cost of foreign travel emergencies. It will not cover the Part B deductible. Plan N will pay the full Part A deductible, but it will require a $20 co-payment for Part B office visits and up to a $50 co-payment for emergency room visits. Plan N will also cover foreign travel emergencies.

In addition, the “home health recovery benefit” and the “preventive care benefit” offered by some plans will be dropped. The home health recovery benefit, which covers some personal services for people receiving skilled care, was found to be underused. And the preventive care benefit duplicates services that regular Medicare offers. 

Finally, all of the plans will include an additional benefit to cover the out-of-pocket costs that are not covered by the Medicare hospice benefit.

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