The Medicare Run Down for 2010

With all the new changes in Medicare, it’s hard to keep track of what was then and what is now. This article should help you.

Anytime something changes, whether it’s how your bank processes your checks or when your health care plans change, like with Medicare, it tends to throw people for a loop. Makes sense; after all when you get used to doing something one way, suddenly finding out it’s now different is disconcerting.

This is particularly true with Medicare supplement plans. For those of you with the older plans, you had other choices and other plans eliminated at the beginning of June 2010. The ones eliminated were the Medigap plans you bought from a private insurance carrier. Good news: basic Medicare and prescription drug coverage has not been affected. So what do you have now? There are 12 variations of Medicare supplement plans A through to L; that’s Plan A to Plan L.

Here’s what you need to know as a quick reference. Plans E,H,I and J no longer exist, but if you had any one of those plans when they were eliminated, you got to keep them if that is what you wanted to do. If there was another plan that suited your needs much better, then perhaps you switched to one of the newer ones. By now, you will have a good idea of whether or not the switch was a good idea, or you may be planning to switch at the next open enrollment period.

By the first of June, you were also able to buy two new plans, M and N, which effectively offered expanded coverage. Plan F is still being sold or in other words, it’s still alive and kicking, so you can certainly look for it when you make any changes to your Medicare plans.

In all the confusion of the changes, a great many people missed out on what some of the other important changes were and may not realize that things they had before might no longer exist. For instance, preventive care and at-home recovery benefits were deleted from all supplement policies because they were not being used very much. This is something to consider overall for Medicare and other medical services; if you want them, use them or lose them.

Plan G offers 100% coverage for excess charges as opposed to the previous 80% coverage and you will find a new hospice benefit added to all of the plans with the exception of Plans K and L (they already have hospice benefits). The “new” hospice benefit offers cost sharing for all Part A eligible hospice and respite care expenses. Medicare has cover for inpatient respite care for up to five days, less your co-pay amount of 5% of the daily benefit. The hospice benefit picks up the 5% co-pay.

The best overall news in case you missed it has to do with the two new Medigap plans, M and N. They are set up give beneficiaries lower estimated premiums and higher cost sharing responsibilities. In Plan M you will find it includes 50% coverage of Medicare Part A deductible, but doesn’t cover Medicare Part B deductible. Plan N offers 100% coverage of Part A deductible, but zero cover for Part B deductible. Cover for the B deductible is now subject to a new co-pay arrangement.

Are there more changes you may need to be aware of for the coming year? Oh definitely, but it’s best to just call your local Medigap insurance agent and start asking questions. They know right away the things that you will need to know to make an informed health insurance purchase.

Richard Cantu is with Medicare supplements resource, GoMedigap.com. To learn more about Medicare, Medicare supplements, or Medicare supplement insurance visit GoMedigap.com.

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