Archived Story

Medicare’s gaps can be filled in to protect assets

Published 12:00am Sunday, April 17, 2011

Whether you’re approaching your golden years or are experiencing them, it’s important to be aware of how your health care options change at age 65. Many believe that Medicare will pay for all of their expenses. Unfortunately, it won’t.

There are several ways to help protect your assets. You may want to consider a Medicare Supplement Insurance policy (sometimes referred to as a “Medigap” policy) to help lower your out-of-pocket expenses. It’s a policy specifically designed to fill some of the gaps in your Medicare coverage.

Medical Supplement Insurance is strictly regulated by both federal and state governments and 10 standardized plans are offered. Some plans are not offered in every state. These plans pay most, if not all, Medicare coinsurance amounts.

Medicare supplement policies are labeled with the letters A though J. Plan B provides additional benefits, and so on. Additional benefits may include co-insurance for skilled nursing care, preventative care, emergency treatment while traveling in a foreign country, doctor’s charges over the approved Medicare amount, prescription medicine or at-home recovery charges. Insurers choose which plans to market unless a state dictates otherwise. A complete statement of coverage can be found in the policy. You will need to choose which plan best suits your needs and budget.

While the plan coverage offered by insurance companies is identical, no two insurance companies are alike. It’s important to take a close look at the company’s financial stability and level of customer service when making your decision.

Once you’ve purchased a policy, you’ll be pleased to know that as long as you use a Medicare-approved physician, you may not need to submit any additional paperwork to Medicare or your supplemental insurance carrier. Be aware that neither Medicare nor a Medicare Supplement Insurance policy will cover all costs associated with long term care assistance if you’re no longer able to care for yourself. It’s best to consult a professional to discuss your insurance and financial needs.

Stuart Heflin is a State Farm agent in Natchez.