Planning for retirement is a difficult process, from determining how and where you’ll spend your time to creating a budget that will allow you to enjoy your golden years as much as possible. Compounding the complexity is the inability to predict how long your retirement will last, or how your health will fare in future years. One way to protect yourself is to take advantage of the subsidized healthcare offered by the United States government, in the form of Medicare and Medicare supplemental insurance plans. Investing in these plans will ensure that you have adequate health insurance when you need it, and that you’re not overpaying for the coverage that you want. If you’re a Montana resident who wants to make an informed decision about your health coverage, consider the options below.
Medigap is a form of Medicare supplemental insurance that provides a specific list of benefits depending on the plan selected. There are 10 Medigap plans available at the time of this writing, and each one is federally regulated to ensure that seniors nationwide receive the same benefits. The one thing that is not regulated is the price – for this reason, Montana seniors who are interested in Medigap coverage should make sure to compare prices carefully before selecting a health insurance company.
There are currently 10 different Medigap plans available, called policies A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M and N. With this range of options comes a similarly expansive choice of Medigap providers. Prices range approximately from around $21/month for a Medigap Policy F plan with a high deductible, to over $200/month for a Policy F plan with a regular deductible. According to research conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average Medigap monthly premium is $174.
The coverage provided by Medigap varies depending on which policy is chosen. For example, eight Medigap plans cover the policyholder’s time spent in a nursing care facility, while two do not. Likewise, eight Medigap policies cover the full costs of 3 pints of transfused blood, while two cover this expense in part. Some seniors prefer to choose the most expansive coverage to ensure that they will be covered for all potential situations, while others prefer to take a more limited plan, and to upgrade their coverage when necessary. A significant benefit of Medigap in Montana and throughout the country is that health insurance companies are obligated to take applicants in most cases. However, if a pre-existing health condition is present, the policyholder may be required to wait six months in order to receive coverage for that condition.
While Medigap provides coverage for specific healthcare services that aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicare Advantage focuses on covering fees and expenses not covered by Medicare. For example, Medicare generally covers up to 80% of a health service, but seniors are required to pay the other 20%. Medicare Advantage is a Medicare supplement that covers these expenses so that seniors will not be faced with a significant financial debt in the event of an emergency. Medicare Advantage offers a distinct advantage over Medigap, as policyholders can choose between an HMO, PPO or fee for services (FFS) plan.
Whether you opt for Medigap or Medicare Advantage, keep in mind that enrollment is limited to about 6 weeks annually, which are usually from October 15 through December 7, so you won’t be able to change plans for quite some time if you decide that you need a different plan. On the other hand, it’s also good to know that most Medicare supplements offer a full refund policy within the first month, so if you aren’t satisfied, you can cancel your coverage (you just can’t change plans until the next open enrollment period).
See for yourself why nearly 30% of all Montana seniors have opted for a Medicare supplement, and why this number is rising annually. Weigh the benefits of the cost in the present against the savings in the future, as well as the coverage that each plan offers. With the proper research and the ample options available in Montana, you should have no trouble finding a Medicare supplement that meets your needs.
Downtown Bellevue, just off I-405