Medigap, supplemental insurance resources available to help Oklahoma seniors find best coverage plan

Medicare open enrollment runs until Dec. 7. Many Medicare recipients also sign up for Medigap, a supplemental coverage plan that generally pays for what Medicare doesn't cover. Oklahoma offers free counseling on choosing a Medigap plan.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: October 26, 2012 at 9:19 pm •  Published: October 27, 2012
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Ray Walker took his job because he wanted to be better enabled to help his mother as she aged.

Walker serves as the divisional director of the state's Medicare Assistance Program.

Walker's job is to help people make health care decisions that are best for them.

Part of that job includes helping older adults and their caregivers understand Medigap, the term used to describe supplemental insurance that covers what traditional Medicare doesn't.

Medicare's open enrollment period runs through Dec. 7. During that time period, adults are also looking for supplemental insurance.

Medicare recipients have two main ways to get Medicare coverage: the original fee-for-service Medicare program or a private Medicare Advantage plan.

Generally speaking, Medicare pays about 80 percent of a person's medical costs.

Prices differ

Many people buy supplemental insurance to cover the other 20 percent, said Bob Moos, spokesman for the southwest regional office of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Medigap plans offered in Oklahoma are standardized, meaning every company offers the same thing with each plan — but not at the same price.

“You absolutely have to shop around,” Walker said. “We tell people to get at least three quotes from three separate agents on three different products to make sure they're getting the best deal available.”

People with Medicare Advantage plans should not purchase Medigap coverage, Walker said.

Because of how the Medicare billing system works, only people with original Medicare can use supplemental insurance plans to cover what Medicare doesn't pay, he said.

Medicare recipients can purchase a supplemental policy anytime during the year, any time an insurance company is willing to sell them a policy, Walker said.

2012 Medicare Supplement Insurance Buying Guide

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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AT A GLANCE

Facts about Medigap policies

You must have Medicare Part A and Part B.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can apply for a Medigap policy, but make sure you can leave the Medicare Advantage Plan before your Medigap policy begins.

You pay the private insurance company a monthly premium for your Medigap policy in addition to the monthly Part B premium that you pay to Medicare.

A Medigap policy only covers one person. If you and your spouse both want Medigap coverage, you'll each have to buy separate policies.

You can buy a Medigap policy from any insurance company that's licensed in your state to sell one.

Any standardized Medigap policy is guaranteed renewable even if you have health problems. This means the insurance company can't cancel your Medigap policy as long as you pay the premium.

Some Medigap policies sold in the past cover prescription drugs, but Medigap policies sold after Jan. 1, 2006, aren't allowed to include prescription drug coverage. If you want prescription drug coverage, you can join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D).

It's illegal for anyone to sell you a Medigap policy if you have a Medicare Medical Savings Account Plan.

Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

You absolutely have to shop around. We tell people to get at least three quotes from three separate agents on three different products to make sure they're getting the best deal available.”

Ray Walker

divisional director of Oklahoma's

Medicare Assistance Program

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