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Learning Center > What is Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)?

What is Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)?

What is Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)?

Original Medicare provides basic hospital and medical insurance coverage to Medicare enrollees. Depending on your healthcare needs, this could leave you with coverage gaps. But there are two primary ways to close them: through a Medicare Advantage plan or through Medicare Supplement Insurance (also known as Medigap).

In this Medicare Supplement guide, we’ll review all of the Medigap basics, including:

  • What is Medigap insurance?
  • What services and benefits are covered under Medicare Supplement?
  • Who is eligible for Medigap?
  • Medicare Supplement costs
  • When are the Medicare Supplement enrollment periods?
  • How does Medigap work with other insurance plans?
  • Medicare Supplement and special scenarios
  • What’s the difference between Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement?
  • Advantages and Disadvantages of Medigap plans

What is Medigap Insurance (Medicare Supplement)?

Medicare Supplement, also known as Medigap, is a category of Medicare insurance products offered by private insurance companies. Medigap plans are designed to work with Original Medicare, and they can close some, or all, of the gaps in your Original Medicare coverage. In other words, these plans are designed to reduce your out-of-pocket spending in Medicare.

Types of Medigap Insurance Plans

There are 10 standardized Medigap plans, each identified by letters: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N. There are also high-deductible versions of plans F and G. Each Medigap plan covers a different mix of your out-of-pocket costs under Original Medicare.

Medicare Supplement benefits are standardized across 47 states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts have their own regulations. That said, this Medicare Supplement guide will focus on the 10 standardized Medigap plans. Below is a breakdown of what each Medigap plan covers.

Medigap Plan A

The most basic Medigap plan is Plan A, which covers your:

  • Part A coinsurance/copay for an additional 365 days in the hospital (beyond Original Medicare)
  • Part B coinsurance/copayments
  • First three pints of blood
  • Part A hospice care coinsurance/copay

Medigap Plan B

Plan B offers a little more coverage, including everything offered by Plan A, plus the Part A deductible.

Medigap Plan C

Plan C covers what Plans A and B do, plus the following:

  • Skilled nursing facility coinsurance/copayments
  • Part B deductible
  • Emergency foreign travel

Plan C is no longer available for people who became eligible for Medicare after 12/31/2019. But if you became eligible for Medicare before that date, Plan C remains available to you.

Medigap Plan D

Plan D covers everything covered by Plan C, except for the Part B deductible.

Medigap Plan F

Plan F is the most comprehensive Medicare Supplement Insurance plan available. It closes many gaps, covering everything Plan C covers, plus Part B excess charges.

But like Plan C, Plan F isn’t available to those who became eligible for Medicare after 12/31/2019.

Medigap Plan G

Plan G is the next-most comprehensive plan. Plan G covers all of the gaps except for the Part B deductible.

Medigap Plan K

Plan K has an unusual structure, covering 50% of many of the gaps. Plan K covers:

  • 100% of Part A coinsurance/copays for up to 365 additional hospital days
  • 50% of Part B coinsurance/copays
  • 50% of the cost of your first three pints of blood
  • 50% of Part A hospice care coinsurance/copays
  • 50% of Skilled Nursing Facility care coinsurance
  • 50% of the Part A deductible
  • Out-of-pocket maximum of $6,220 (2021 amount)
  • Plan K does not cover:
  • Part B deductible
  • Part B excess charges
  • Foreign travel

Medigap Plan L

Plan L covers 75% of a range of items (i.e. Part A deductible, Part B coinsurance, first three pints of blood, Part A hospice copayment, Part A skilled nursing coinsurance). Plan K, by comparison, covers those same items, but only at 50%. The out-of-pocket maximum for Plan L is $3,110 in 2021.

Medigap Plan M

Medigap Plan M covers everything that Plan D covers, except that Plan M only covers 50% of the Part A deductible.

Medigap Plan N

Medigap Plan N covers everything plan D does, with the exception of a copayment of up to $20 for Part B services and up to $50 for emergency room visits (this is waived if you’re admitted as an inpatient).

What Services Are Covered Under Medigap?

All of the services and procedures covered by Original Medicare are covered by Medicare Supplement, depending on which standardized plan you choose.

Original Medicare Part A

All Medicare-approved services and procedures covered by Medicare Part A are eligible, including:

  • Inpatient hospital stays
  • Skilled nursing care (non-custodial only)
  • Hospice care
  • Home health care

Original Medicare Part B

Medicare Supplement insurance can help pay for your share of costs under Medicare Part B, including:

Extra Benefits Provided By Medigap Plans

Some Medicare Supplement insurance plans offer additional benefits beyond what Original Medicare covers.

However, these benefits are not guaranteed and can change from year to year. Some of the most common extra Medigap benefits include:

  • Gym memberships and fitness programs like SilverSneakers
  • Discounts on vision, hearing, and prescription drugs
  • Access to nurse hotlines

Note: Insurance companies are not required to offer extra benefits, so some do not.

Who Is Eligible For Medicare Supplement?

As a basic rule, you must be eligible for Medicare Parts A and B in order to qualify for Medigap plans. However, Medicare Supplement eligibility is also subject to federal and state laws. This means that the federal government imposes basic regulations, and some states add additional requirements.

For instance, federal law requires that Medicare Supplement insurance plans offer coverage to people age 65 and older. However, some states require Medicare Supplement insurers to allow people younger than age 65 to enroll, if they’re eligible for Medicare.

We’ll be reviewing some of the costs of Medicare Supplement in the next section, but for now, know that Medigap coverage is usually better for those age 65 and up because premiums for people under age 65 can be expensive.

Since Medigap is designed to work with Original Medicare, you must remain enrolled in Part A and Part B at all times.

Medigap Costs

While Medicare Supplement insurance is designed to lower your out-of-pocket spending, there are certain costs that you’ll still have to pay. Your specific costs will vary based on which standardized plan you choose, but you can expect to pay some or all of Medicare Supplement costs:

  • Part B premium (paid to Social Security regardless of which Medigap plan you choose)
  • Monthly premium for Medigap coverage (paid to your insurance company and can increase over time)
  • Deductibles (Part A and/or B, or some percentage of the Part A deductible)
  • Coinsurance (whatever amount your Medigap plan doesn’t cover)

Example: Let’s say you have Medicare Supplement Plan G. Your monthly premium at age 65 might be $135 per month, in addition to your Part B premium of $148.50. You go to the doctor in January and have bloodwork, imaging (x-ray, or MRI), and a minor outpatient surgery performed. And your total Medicare-approved costs are $600.

Since Mediare Supplement Plan G doesn’t cover the Part B deductible, you must pay the first $203 for Part B expenses. Your Medigap plan will then cover the rest of your bills. And you won’t pay out of pocket for any other Medicare-approved services for the rest of the year.

When Can I Enroll in Medigap?

There are two types of enrollment into Medicare Supplement plans:

  • Guaranteed issue
  • Medically underwritten (We’ll cover these more in depth in a bit).

You’ll get a Medigap Open Enrollment Period when you meet these two criteria:

  • You are age 65, and
  • You are enrolled in Medicare Part B

Your Medicare Supplement insurance open enrollment period won’t start until both of these conditions are true. So if you work beyond age 65 and delay enrollment in Part B, your Medigap Open Enrollment Period won’t begin until you actually enroll in Part B, even if it’s after your 65th birthday. On the other hand, if you enter Medicare before you turn 65 (say, due to disability), your open enrollment period doesn’t begin until you actually turn 65.

Whenever your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period begins, it will last for six months. You can enroll in any Medicare Supplement insurance plan available in your state during this time, and your enrollment is guaranteed.

Note: Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period is not the same as the Medicare Open Enrollment Period.

Medicare Supplement Guaranteed Issue

With Medicare Supplement guaranteed issue, you can’t be declined coverage, charged a higher premium based on your health status, or be subject to a waiting period.

You may have the opportunity to get Medigap coverage (or switch from one plan to another) on a guaranteed issue basis in other limited situations, including when:

  • You permanently move out of your plan’s service area.
  • You leave your first Medicare Advantage plan after trying it out for 12 months or less (Trial Right).
  • Your Medicare Advantage plan loses, or fails to renew, its contract with CMS.
  • You lose certain employer or retiree coverage.

If you don’t qualify for guaranteed issue, you’ll have to apply for a medically-underwritten Medigap policy.

Medical Underwriting

If you apply for Medicare Supplement insurance outside of your Open Enrollment period and you don’t qualify for a guaranteed issue period, you’ll be subject to medical underwriting. This means that you’ll answer questions about your health on your application. It also means you can be declined coverage for health reasons, or you can be charged a higher premium. A plan can also impose a waiting period for services relating to a pre-existing condition. This waiting period can be up to six months.

For these reasons, you are better off getting Medigap when you’re first eligible, during your Open Enrollment Period.

How Does Medigap Work with Other Insurance Plans?

Medicare Supplement insurance is designed to work with Original Medicare. You cannot combine Medigap coverage with a Medicare Advantage plan.

However, you can get drug coverage from a standalone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan.

Medicare Supplement & Dual Eligibility

If you’re on Medicare and Medicaid at the same time (often called dual eligibility), you may not be able to get Medicare Supplement Insurance, except in very limited circumstances.

What’s The Difference Between Medicare Advantage And Medicare Supplement Plans?

While both of these Medicare plan types are offered through private insurance companies, they have several major differences.

Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative to Original Medicare. Meanwhile, Medigap plans are designed to work with Original Medicare. You’ll stay in Parts A and B, and Medigap supplements your coverage by paying for some or all of your out-of-pocket costs. Here is a helpful resource to learn more about the differences between Medigap and Medicare Advantage.

Many Medicare Advantage plans offer prescription drug coverage. But no modern Medicare Supplement plan (after 2006) provides drug coverage. Instead, you’ll need to combine your Medigap coverage with a Prescription Drug Plan.

Most Medicare Advantage plans are either HMOs or PPOs that use a network of doctors and facilities. Medicare Supplement insurance, though, retains all of the flexibility of Original Medicare. This means you can see any provider in the nation that takes Medicare patients. There are no plan networks, and you generally don’t need a referral to see specialists.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Medicare Supplement Plans?

Medicare Supplement plans are very useful for lowering your out-of-pocket Medicare costs, but they’re not for everyone. Here are some pros and cons.

Pros of Medicare Supplement Insurance

  • Maximum flexibility (no network or referral restrictions).
  • More comprehensive plan with less out-of-pocket expenses than Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage (depending on which Medigap policy you choose).
  • More likely to provide coverage while you’re travelling outside of the United States.

Cons of Medicare Supplement Insurance

More expensive than Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage (initial premiums are usually higher, and they rise over time). You must also get drug coverage in a separate Prescription Drug plan, which adds costs.

Medicare Supplement Plan Comparison Chart

Click here to compare 2021 Medicare Supplement plans and get a complete breakdown of benefits, coinsurance costs, and deductible amounts.

Compare Medigap Plans

In this Medicare Supplement guide, we’ve reviewed the basics of coverage and given examples of how Medigap plans work. Overall, Medicare Supplement plans can be a great way to lower or eliminate your out-of-pocket healthcare costs under Original Medicare. And these plans are especially good for those who can comfortably afford the premiums, don’t want network or referral restrictions, or travel outside of the U.S. frequently.

If you’re looking for Medicare coverage that offers more flexibility, we can help you find the right Medicare Supplement Insurance plan to fit your lifestyle.

Call 800-620-4519 (TTY 711) to speak with one of our licensed insurance agents about your Medicare Supplement plan options.

What you should read next

Medicare In 2023: Changes & Updates

When planning ahead for your healthcare expenses and how they align with your Medicare coverage, it’s very important to stay informed on the changes to Medicare each year.  Several aspects of Medicare - particularly related to out-of-pocket costs - can change on an annual basis. Beyond costs or plan changes, Congress also occasionally proposes and passes legislation that often impacts Medicare benefits.  In this article, we’ll review the recent changes, including the 2023 Medicare costs and an overall look at the state of Medicare in 2023.  2023 Medicare Costs: An Overview  The Medicare costs that change each year are: Part A deductiblePart A daily coinsurancePart B deductible Medicare Part A CostsThe changes to Part A costs include:Part A deductible - $1,600, an increase of $44 from 2022Part A daily coinsurance for hospital stays over 60 days - $400 per day, an increase of $19 per dayPart A daily coinsurance for hospital stays over 90 days - $800 per day, an increase of $22 per dayPart A daily coinsurance for skilled nursing facility stays longer than 20 days - up to 100 days $200, an increase of $5.50 per month Keep in mind that it is possible to pay the Part A deductible more than once in a year. This would only happen when you have multiple hospital stays in one year, and your stays are separated by more than 60 days. In this situation, you’d pay the Part A deductible each time.When you pay the Part A deductible, that gets you 60 days in the hospital and 20 days in a skilled nursing facility. If your stay goes beyond those times, you’ll have to pay the updated daily co-insurance amounts indicated above. Medicare Part B CostsThe Part B deductible for 2023 decreased to $226. It was $233 for 2022. You have to pay the Part B deductible each year before Medicare starts  paying its portion of your outpatient care. Unlike the Part A deductible, you’ll only be required to pay the Part B deductible once per year.After you’ve met the Part B deductible, Medicare will pay the first 80% of the cost for your care; you’ll be responsible for the remaining 20%. Besides standard Part B coinsurance, you might encounter Part B excess charges, which can be as much as 15% of the Medicare-approved cost for your care.There were no changes to these coinsurance costs for 2023. How Much Will Medicare Premiums Increase in 2023? The standard Part B premium for 2023 is $164.90, which is a decrease of $5.20 per month. This decrease takes some of the sting out of last year’s increase, which was one of the largest in history. You may pay a higher premium for Medicare if you have incomes exceeding $97,000 (single filers) or $194,000 (married filing jointly).In addition to the costs for using your coverage, you’ll also have to consider the cost for getting your coverage. Most people don't have to pay a premium for Part A coverage (because it’s been pre-funded through payroll tax deductions), but you do have to pay a premium for Part B coverage. Medicare Part D Changes Another major component of your Medicare coverage is Medicare Part D, also known as Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs). Part D is offered by private insurance carriers with a Medicare contract - not offered by the federal Medicare program. There have been major changes to Part D in the past year as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act. Some of these changes won’t take effect until 2024 or later, but a few of them will be effective in 2023. The changes that will be applicable for 2023 include:Caps on the cost of certain insulinTaxes on excessive increases in the cost for prescription drugsLowering the cost of many vaccinations covered under Part DEach of these changes will have an impact on both standalone Part D Prescription  Drug Plans (PDP) and Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plans (MAPD). New Caps On Insulin PricesThe Inflation Reduction Act has brought us the Insulin Savings Program, which was a temporary “test program” that began in 2020. The program is now permanent and mandatory. But previously, it was optional: Part D plans could choose to participate on a voluntary basis.The Inflation Reduction Act limits monthly cost sharing for covered insulin products to no more than $35 for Medicare beneficiaries, as long as the insulin is on the plans formulary. No deductible will apply to these insulin prescriptions. For 2023 and beyond, insulin prescriptions are capped at $35 for a one month supply. This price level stays the same throughout the year, even if you enter the coverage gap or “donut hole.” Excise Tax On Excessive Cost Increases Cost increases on prescription drugs, which are set by the manufacturers, will be subject to a new tax beginning in 2023. Medicare will use 2022 drug prices as a baseline and will investigate the prices for 2023 prescription drugs. If the increases from 2022 to 2023 are larger than the official rate of inflation, the manufacturer will pay a tax equal to 100% of the amount that the increase exceeded inflation for the year. Drug prices will be tracked each year in this way. The hope is that manufacturers will be less likely to increase prices aggressively since they won’t be able to keep any of the extra revenue that large cost increases used to bring them.While this new policy doesn’t directly reduce or limit the prices you pay through your drug plan, over time, it may allow for smaller copayments and coinsurance for your prescriptions. Reduced Vaccine Costs Under Part D The Inflation Reduction Act is also impacting how much you’ll pay for vaccinations under Part D. Prior to 2023, most non-essential vaccines were subject to cost-sharing, which meant that you had to pay a copayment or coinsurance for them. For example, the shingles vaccine was famously expensive. For 2023 and beyond, many Part D covered vaccines will be available at no cost. This brings the Part D vaccinations into alignment with the rules and cost structure for Part B vaccines (like the COVID-19 and flu shots). This includes the shingles shot, so protecting against this painful illness will be cheaper starting in 2023. There are still vaccines that you’ll have to pay for under Medicare, even after these recent changes. Vaccines that are needed to treat injuries or exposure to certain diseases may still require cost-sharing. General Enrollment Period (GEP) ChangesThe last major change to Medicare in 2023 relates to entering Medicare when you’ve missed your original enrollment window. Most people get to enter Medicare when they turn 65-years-old. In that case, you have a seven-month enrollment period known as your Initial Election Period (IEP) during which you can enroll. If you miss this chance, you have to enroll during the General Enrollment Period (GEP). GEP runs from January 1st to March 31st each year. Previously, if you enrolled during the GEP, your Medicare coverage wasn’t effective until July 1, which left you with a significant gap in your medical coverage.For 2023 and beyond, your coverage will be effective on the first day of the month after you sign up during the General Enrollment Period, eliminating the lengthy waiting period. Learn MoreIf you still have questions about 2023 Medicare costs and how they impact you, call 800-620-4519 to speak to one of our licensed insurance agents. You can also view our Medicare resources online:Compare Medicare plans: Visit our Medicare plan comparison tool.Learn about Medicare: View our Medicare Learning Center.Note: These 2023 Medicare costs and updates are courtesy of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). For more information, visit the CMS newsroom. 

10 Costly Medicare Mistakes to Avoid

Researching your Medicare plan and understanding how to use your benefits wisely is key to maximizing your Medicare plan. But if you don't take the time to learn all that your current plan has to offer, or if you avoid comparing Medicare plans when it may be time to make a change, you could end up paying more money for your healthcare.   To help you make an informed choice, we’ve put together this guide about 10 costly mistakes to avoid when picking a Medicare plan.   Mistake #1: Using Doctors And Medications That Are Not Covered By Your Plan Medicare Advantage plans have formal networks of providers and lists of medications that are covered (called a formulary). If you see doctors who aren’t in-network, you’ll be paying more for your care than if you use in-network providers. While some PPO plans will allow you to see non-network providers, you’ll save the most money when you use in-network providers. In the same way, plans only provide coverage for medications that are on the formulary. If you use non-covered medications, you’ll end up paying full price for them. So if your current plan doesn’t work with your doctors and medications, you may want to consider making a change to your coverage a qualifying enrollment period.  Our online guided Medicare enrollment tool also allows you to check and see if your doctor and drugs are covered in a Medicare Advantage plan.   Mistake #2: Not Taking Advantage of Additional BenefitsOne of the reasons Medicare Advantage plans are increasingly popular is because they usually provide benefits that are not covered by Original Medicare. These kinds of benefits can include dental, vision, hearing, or prescription drug coverage.These benefits also may be included in your plan at no additional cost. If you don’t use them, you might be paying more than you need to for these services. In addition to the potential cost savings, these additional benefits are designed to help you live a healthier life. Mistake #3: Paying Cash For Your MedicationsIt can be tempting to pay cash for some of your less expensive medications. This is especially true when you look into any of the various prescription discount card programs that are currently available. However, it's wise to avoid paying for your medications if you're expected to reach the third coverage stage of the Medicare Part D drug program (often called the donut hole). Your drug plan tracks your spending, so if you pay cash for a prescription, it doesn’t count towards your official spending. This means that you might not be able to move out of the donut hole if you pay cash for some of your medications. Instead, consider using your plan even if you’ll pay more, if it means that you’ll move out of the donut hole faster. Mistake #4: Not Understanding Your Plan’s CostsWhile Medicare Advantage plans generally help to limit your healthcare costs, it’s important to remember that there are costs you’ll be expected to pay for your care. These costs are usually referred to as cost-sharing. Cost-sharing can include deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. Besides these amounts, you’ll want to double check your plan’s Out-of-Pocket Maximum (OOPM), which is the most you could possibly spend in one year.  Mistake #5: Choosing A Plan Based On Premiums AloneIt can be tempting to focus on the monthly premium you pay for your coverage, and not dig deeper into the costs you’ll pay to use your benefits. Pay particular attention to any deductible that you have to meet, as well as co-payments for services you’re likely to use. Besides these, consider your total costs in light of any costs for prescription drugs you take, too. Mistake #6: Not Checking To See If You Qualify For Financial AssistanceThere are a number of federal and state programs that are designed to help you pay for the cost of your health care. These can include Medicaid, Extra Help, Low Income Subsidy, and state pharmaceutical assistance programs. While there are income and asset limits for participation in some of these, you should apply for them if you think there is any chance that you could be eligible. Many times the limits are dependent on household size so you may qualify even if your income appears to exceed the limits. The upside is huge and there’s no downside to applying, so don’t miss out any potential for savings with these programs. Mistake #7: Not Considering Late Enrollment PenaltiesIt’s very important to consider the impact of late enrollment penalties, especially when you’re first entering Medicare. You can potentially be subject to enrollment penalties for both Part B and Part D. These penalties are assessed in the form of an additional monthly premium. Importantly, these penalties are generally permanent; once you’re subject to them, you’ll pay them for the rest of your life.If you’re already in Medicare, and you have avoided late enrollment penalties so far, just make sure that you continue to have Part D drug coverage, either from a Medicare Advantage Plan or a standalone Prescription Drug Plan.Mistake #8: Not Reviewing Changes In Your CircumstancesIt's important to review any changes in your circumstances on an annual basis. If you’ve been referred to a new specialist, prescribed a new medication, or diagnosed with a new medical condition, you might be better served by a different plan for the new year. So be sure to consider the impact these kinds of circumstances may have on your Medicare coverage.  Mistake #9: Automatically Renewing Your Plan Each YearEach year, your plan will mail your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) before the fall Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). The ANOC outlines changes in your plan benefits or costs for the upcoming year. Use this document, along with your plan’s overall Evidence of Coverage (EOC) to know how to use your benefits for this year.If you don’t make a change during AEP, you’ll automatically stay in your current plan. But plan benefits change from year to year, as do Medicare Advantage plan networks. So it's essential to review your coverage each year. Mistake #10: Not Working With A Licensed Insurance AgentAs you research the plans available in your area, consider working with a licensed insurance agent like one of our TogetherHealth agents. We work with a network of the nation’s major insurance carriers and can provide you with a variety of plan options to fit your healthcare needs, remain in-network with your doctors, and give you strategies to save money on prescription drugs.  Get Help With MedicareIf you need more guidance, call 1-800-620-4519 (TTY 711) to speak to one of our licensed agents and get advice on how to avoid these 10 costly Medicare mistakes.

2023 Medicare Annual Enrollment Period Guide

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), sometimes called Medicare Open Enrollment or the Medicare Annual Election Period, runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. This is the time period in which Medicare-eligible consumers can make certain changes to their Medicare plans. These plan changes would then become effective on January 1. View Our Medicare Annual Enrollment Period Guide Medicare plan costs and benefits can change annually, so it's wise to review your Medicare coverage each year. Use our Guide to the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period as a resource to review your current Medicare plan on an annual basis, then call our licensed insurance agents to compare Medicare plans during AEP.  Medicare Guide to Annual Enrollment Medicare Guide Understand your Medicare plan options and learn what actions to take and when. Download your guide Call to compare Medicare plans: 1-888-605-1433 (TTY 711). Our licensed insurance agents are available to help 7 days a week. Weekdays: 8am – 11pm ET Saturday: 10am – 7pm ET Sunday: 11am – 6pm ET Overview of Medicare Enrollment PeriodsIt's important to know that the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is different from other Medicare enrollment periods. Here’s a quick overview of the differences:Initial Enrollment Period (IEP): The 7-month initial enrollment period when you can first sign up for Medicare Parts A, B, C or D. This period spans:3 months before your 65th birthdayThe month of your 65th birthday3 months after your 65th birthdayAnnual Enrollment Period (AEP): An election period that allows you to make changes to your Medicare coverage each year. Open Enrollment Period (OEP): Applies only to those with Medicare Advantage, who can change Medicare Advantage plans or drop them and return to Original MedicareGeneral Enrollment Period (GEP): Open enrollment period to join Medicare Part A and B.Special Enrollment Period (SEP): Occurs if you have eligible life changes that mean you need to change your plan before the next annual enrollment period.Be sure to visit our guide to different enrollment periods to learn more.What’s the Difference Between Medicare AEP and the Medicare General Enrollment Period?The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is sometimes confused with the Medicare General Enrollment period, which is January 1 to March 31 each year. It’s important to understand the differences between the two enrollment periods.The Medicare General Enrollment Period is for Medicare beneficiaries who didn’t sign up for Medicare Part A) or Part B when they first became eligible and aren’t eligible for a Medicare Part B special enrollment period. The AEP, however, is for beneficiaries who are already enrolled in Medicare and want to change their Medicare coverage.What Changes Can I Make During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?The first thing to know is that you cannot use the Medicare Annual Election Period to enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B for the first time.If you’re enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B and you’d like to change your Medicare coverage, here are some things you can do during the Medicare AEP:Change Medicare Advantage plans.Change Prescription Drug (Part D) plans. Enroll in a Prescription Drug Plan.Cancel your Prescription Drug Plan.Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare (and add a Part D plan or Medicare Supplement plan if needed). 5 Tips to Prepare for the Medicare Annual Enrollment PeriodThere are many Medicare insurance carriers and plan options, but there are several steps you can take to be a savvy shopper and choose the right plan for your unique needs.1. Mark Your CalendarThis may seem like an obvious tip, but it’s worth mentioning: Mark your calendar for October 15 through December 7 if you’d like to make a change to your Medicare plan.You might even set aside a few hours to research and compare Medicare Advantage plans and Prescription Drug plans ahead of October 15. These plans announce their benefits for the next year starting on October 1.Writing down these Medicare AEP dates and to-dos will help you to commit to these priorities.2. Review Your Medicare Annual Notice of ChangeYou’ll receive lots of information over the next month or so prior to and during AEP, so if you’re currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plan, the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) is one piece of mail you’ll want to read.Your Medicare plan will mail your Annual Notice of Change letter to you by September 30. The ANOC letter will inform you of most changes to your Medicare health plan, including coverage and benefits that will take effect on January 1 each year.Each year, your Medicare health plan sets the amounts it will charge you for premiums, deductibles and other services. Medicare doesn’t set these rates - but your insurance company does. With this in mind, the amounts you pay could change each year.While evaluating your current Medicare plan, you may want to ask yourself questions like:Did the plan cover the services I needed?Did I use out-of-network providers?Did I spend more out of pocket than I originally anticipated?Has something changed with my health (new diagnosis, new prescriptions, etc.)?The ANOC will also provide a side-by-side comparison of your current plan and next year’s plan benefits, costs and other changes (if any).Moral of the story: Don’t toss this piece of mail aside. Always review your ANOC to ensure your plan continues to meet your needs on an annual basis. And if you don’t receive your ANOC by September 30, contact your Medicare insurance company.3. Make a List of What’s Important to Your HealthKeeping a list of what’s important to your health is an invaluable way to prepare for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period.Start by writing down all of your doctors, preferred health care facilities and hospitals, and prescription drugs, if you take any.We also recommend making a list of value-added benefits that may fit your health, lifestyle and budget.For example, you may be someone who likes to keep active and have social interaction. So a fitness program like SilverSneakers, which gives you access to a network of gyms and other programs, might be a good fit for you. A Medicare Advantage plan may provide these types of fitness or wellness programs.Another thing to consider is whether or not you have an elective surgery planned for 2023. If so, you’ll want to check your hospital-specific benefits under your current Medicare Advantage plan.4. Check Your Plan’s Drug FormularyYour Medicare plan’s drug formulary will not be included in your Annual Notice of Change, so be sure you call your insurance carrier to see if your prescription drugs will be covered for the 2023 plan year.If your prescription drugs aren’t covered, it’s wise to use the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period to find a plan that does cover them.5. Talk To Your DoctorAnother “Medicare must-do” is to make sure all of your doctors and healthcare facilities will remain in network with your current Medicare plan. If they aren’t, you may want to take advantage of the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period.So be sure to ask your doctor if he or she plans on changing health plan affiliations over the next year.What Changes Can I Make During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?The first thing to know is that you cannot use the Medicare Annual Election Period to enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B for the first time.But if you’re enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B and you’d like to change your Medicare coverage, here are some things you can do during the Medicare Annual Election Period:Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.Disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare.Change from one prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D) to another.Enroll in a prescription drug plan.Cancel your prescription drug coverage.What Are The Benefits of a Medicare Advantage Plan?Understanding your Medicare plan options - starting with a Medicare Advantage plan - is a smart first step to take because you can switch, enroll into or disenroll from Medicare Advantage plans during AEP.Medicare Advantage plans, otherwise known as “Medicare Part C” or “MA Plans,” bundle Original Medicare (Parts A and B) services into one plan. These plans are offered by private insurance companies. And while Original Medicare offers you a number of benefits, it may not cover health and medical services you might need.Medicare Advantage plans are appealing to many people because they’re considered “all-in-one” plans that give you an annual cap on your spending as well as access to extra benefits, which may include: Dental and vision coveragePrescription drug coverageAccess to fitness programsHealth incentive programsRides to medical appointmentsTelemedicine servicesNote: If you have limited income, you might also qualify for extra savings on Medicare costs through these programs.Medicare Savings Programs. These programs help pay for some of your Medicare Part A and Part B out-of-pocket costs, such as copays, deductibles and premiums. Most programs are for Medicare beneficiaries who also qualify for Medicaid. And as mentioned, Medicaid covers the majority of your costs when you join a Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plan. You can check if you qualify through your local Medicaid office.Medicare Extra Help. Extra Help reduces your Medicare prescription drug plan costs. You should contact Social Security to check your eligibility for Extra Help if you have an existing Medicare drug plan or you join one during AEP. Find A Medicare Advantage Plan During AEPTo enroll in an eligible plan during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, you can use our comparison tool as a guide to assess your needs and help you choose a Medicare plan. Or, you can give us a call.Our licensed insurance agents are available to help 7 days a week. Call us toll-free at 1-888-605-1433 (TTY 711). Weekdays: 8am – 11pm ET Saturday: 10am – 7pm ET Sunday: 11am – 6pm ET Tip: Be sure to have these 3 items handy before you call us or enroll in a Medicare plan online during AEP:Your Medicare number, which is found on your red, white and blue ID card.Your list of prescription drugs and preferred pharmacy.Your list of preferred doctors and hospitals.We’re here to help you compare your options and find you a Medicare plan that meets your individual needs. 

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