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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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However, people just turning 65 and signing up for Medicare Part B are at an advantage.

Insurance companies cannot deny this group of people a supplemental policy within the first six months of signing up for Medicare. Also during this time period, insurance companies cannot charge this group more for their policy based on pre-existing conditions.

“If they miss that opportunity in the first six months when they sign up for Part B, then the company can make them fill out medical questionnaires, they can ask a whole bunch of questions, they can deny them, they can charge them more,” Walker said.

Counseling offered

The state Insurance Department's Senior Health Insurance Counseling Program offers free Medicare counseling. Anyone with questions about coverage or plans can call the Oklahoma Medicare Assistance Program at (800) 763-2828.

Along with questions about coverage, you can also ask the Insurance Department whether the company has customer complaints against it.

It's important to know what kind customer service you'll be offered.

Moos, who works out of Dallas, said when selecting a Medigap plan, it's also important to keep in mind what you're paying for your prescription drug plan, or Part D.

If a person has a Medicare premium, a prescription drug plan premium and a supplemental insurance premium, that means they're paying three premiums, a cost that will add up, he said.

“One of the benefits to Medigap is — yes, there's yet another premium to pay for that coverage, but it does give the policyholder some predictability about their health care cost,” Moos said. “They know up front what it's going to cost them if they get sick. Many people want that peace of mind, that sense of security. That's why these plans are as popular as they are.”

2012 Medicare Supplement Insurance Buying Guide
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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