Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How to Find the Right Medicare Plan for You

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Choosing a Medicare plan can be a daunting task. Not only do you have to understand what Medicare does and doesn't cover, you have to understand how it pays for services, when it pays services, and how you can supplement it to ensure all of your medical costs are covered. Your job, when selecting a Medicare plan, is to fit the pieces together to form a coherent, comprehensive plan that you can afford. This guide will help you do just that.

Understanding Medicare

The first step to choosing a Medicare plan is to understand what Medicare is and how it works. Medicare is often touted as the affordable health care plan, but there is actually no limit to the out-of-pocket expenses you could be responsible for under Medicare. For instance, consider that the Part A deductible is not an annual deductible, which means that you may have to pay the same $1,184 deductible multiple times in a year. Paying it once is bad enough, but bills can really pile up if you have to pay it over and over again.

The best way to understand Medicare is to realize that the basic plan is not enough. You need coverage that will ensure that you aren't on the hook for thousands of dollars if your happen to fall into the categories that have you paying deductibles more than once or covering expenses over and above what Medicare will cover. Choosing Medicare coverage should always include choosing a Medigap plan, such as the plans offered by MediGapAdvisors.com. Here is a brief overview of Medigap coverage.

Medigap: Extending Medicare Protection

The best way to understand what costs Medicare doesn't cover is to look at plans that are designed specifically to fill in those gaps. These plans, referred to as Medigap Plans, can vary some from state to state, but the general idea is to cover shortfalls in Medicare. There are ten different Medigap plans labeled A - G and then K - N. Each plan offers different levels of coverage for the following Medicare gaps.

  • Coverage for hospital costs for an additional year after Medicare Part A benefits are used up.
  • Coverage for deductibles associated with Medicare Part A. 
  • Coverage for deductibles and other expenses (called "excess expenses") associated with gaps in Medicare Part B.
  • Coverage of blood transfusions. 
  • Payment for hospice care. 
  • Payment for skilled nursing care. 
  • Coverage for medical care during foreign travel.

The list does go on, but the point is clear. There are a lot of gaps in Medicare coverage and you have to decide how best to fill them. Each of the ten plans covers these gaps in different ways for different costs. Plan F, for instance, covers 100% of the costs that Medicare doesn't. Of course, it is a more expensive plan than say Plan K, which covers most things to 50% of their total cost and does not cover certain gaps at all.

Making Sense of It

Making sense of Medicare takes time and effort. There are advisors available to help you, but a great deal of information is available online. You will need to know what types of coverage you expect to use (you may not need foreign travel coverage, but blood transfusion coverage may be critical) and how much you can afford to pay. Let those two factors be your guides, but remember that there are advisors who know the system well and can help you get more coverage even if you think you can't afford it. The worse thing you can do is go without coverage that you think you need, so be diligent and ask for help. There is almost always a solution.

Billy Henderson has many years of experience in the healthcare industry. He enjoys explaining the ins and outs of the system to help the everyday person understand the options.

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