Seven Misconceptions About Medicare Supplements

Seven Misconceptions About Medicare Supplements

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Narrowing down what’s important about Medicare Supplements can be confusing.  If you’re like me you have a busy life and can’t waste time sifting through the mounds of information which you will be bombarded with.  The good news is there is tons of information out there about Medicare Supplements.  The bad news is not all of it is good or accurate .  Only a little will be relevant to your specific needs.  You want “just the facts” or information that will help you make a decision about whether you need a Medicare Supplement and if so, which plan?   Making things more difficult is that the bad information out there just adds to the confusion about what a Medicare Supplement is and what it can do for you.   Here are seven of the most common misconceptions(Falsities)  vs truths out there.

Medicare Supplements vs Medicare Advantage Plans

Medicare Supplements and Medicare Advantage plans are not the same things. There is a difference between a Medicare Supplement and a Medicare Advantage Plan. To put it very simply if your plan is an HMO or PPO and you have a Provider Network then you have a Medicare Advantage Plan (for the most part).  Medicare Supplements do not have networks.

Medicare advantage text cloud
Medicare Advantage Plan (HMO & PPO)

Who Pays Your Doctor Medicare or Medicare Supplement?

Medicare is always Primary if you have a Medicare Supplement.  This means Medicare pays your bills first and that forwards the remainder of the charges to your Medicare Supplement Company to pay the difference.  As long as your doctor accepts Medicare he has to accept your Medicare Supplement.

Image courtesy of Everydayplus at
Image courtesy of Everydayplus at

Medicare Supplement Plans

There are 11 Medicare Supplement Plans.   The most commonly utilized plans are F, G and N for those over 65 years.  Part A is usually for those under 65 who qualify.Med Supp Plans Chart

Deductibles, Copays, and Coinsurance

Medicare Supplement Plans F & G have no copays and no coinsurance!  Plan G has a small annual deductible which is your Medicare Part B deductible.  The standard annual deductible in 2016 is $121.80 but might be higher depending on your income.  There is usually no other out of pocket expense other than the deductible mentioned in Plan G and of course the monthly premium.  No additional out of pocket expense when you go to the doctor, the hospital, MRI or any other Medicare Eligible expenses.

coins falling out of pant pocket
Image courtesy of fantasista at

Plan N Difference

Medicare Supplement Plan N has an annual deductible plus a possible copay for an office visit of up to $20.   It does not pay for excess charges so you might be responsible for these if your doctor does not have an assignment relationship with Medicare.

Image courtesy of Viacheslav Blizniuk at
Image courtesy of Viacheslav Blizniuk at


A Medicare Supplement or sometimes called Medigap plan fills supplements or fills in the gaps in Medicare coverage.  It will pay the difference in Medicare Eligible charges.

man stretched over gap

Changing Medicare Supplement Plans or Companies

Last but not least….  “The envelope please!”

YOU CAN CHANGE MEDICARE SUPPLEMENT (MEDIGAP) PLANS AT ANY TIME.  YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE ANNUAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD!  It’s only Medicare Part D standalone drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans which limit changes to the annual enrollment period usually starting October 15th.

 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

If you keep in mind the seven facts above you should have enough information to make a decision on whether a Medicare Supplement is right for you and if so which plan.  Above all know what your needs are and find the plan that meets them.  If you need further info please feel free to contact us.

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