Medicare Supplement – Frequently Asked Questions
What is Medicare Supplement Insurance?
Medicare Supplement Insurance is a private health insurance policy designed to help pay some or all of the costs that are not covered by Medicare Parts A and B.
Who is eligible for Medicare Supplement Insurance?
Anyone who is covered under both Medicare parts A and B is eligible for Medigap Coverage.
When can I apply for Medicare Supplement Insurance?
You can apply for Medicare Supplement Insurance during open enrollment. Open enrollment includes a six-month period from the date you enrolled in Medicare Part B if age 65 or older, or up to six-month after you turn 65 if you were eligible for Part B benefits before age 65. If you become eligible for Medicare Part B benefits before age 65 because of disability or ESRD (permanent kidney failure), you are guaranteed the Medicare Supplement policy of your choice during the first six months you are age 65 and enrolled in Part B.
Does Medicare Supplement coverage include prescription drug benefits?
No, Medicare Supplement is designed to fill in the “gaps” with Medicare Plans such as Part A (which covers hospital and skilled nursing facility care) and Part B (which covers doctor bills and other medical expenses).
For prescription drug coverage, you can select a separate Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. In Illinois, there are 2 major companies that offer Medicare Prescription drug coverage – AARP and BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois. For more information on Medicare Part D Plans, click on the links below:
- AARP Medicare Prescription Drug Plans
- BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois Medicare Prescription Drug Plans
Can I enroll if I do not have Medicare Parts A or B?
No, you must be entitled to Medicare Part A and/or enrolled in Medicare Part B to be eligible for a Medicare supplement plan.
To learn how to get Medicare Part A and/or Part B, please call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), 24 hours a day/7 days a week. For the hearing or speech impaired, please call 1-877-486-2048.
You may also contact your State Medicaid Office or the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213, Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. CST. For the hearing or speech impaired, please call 1-800-325-0778.
Does Everyone Need a Medicare Supplement Policy?
Not everyone needs a Medicare supplement policy. If you have certain other types of health coverage, the gaps in your Medicare coverage may already be covered. You probably don’t need Medicare supplement insurance if
- you belong to a Medicare Advantage plan
- Medicaid or the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program pays your Medicare premiums and other out-of-pocket costs.
- You are covered under an employer group health plan
What if I (or my spouse) plan to work after age 65 and continue receiving group health care benefits?
Check with your group plan administrator. You may be able to choose either your group plan or Medicare plus Medicare Supplement coverage. If you stay with your group health care plan, a Special Enrollment Period lets you delay purchasing Part B until you need it.
Will I need to switch doctors if I enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan?
No, you may continue to see your own doctor. Medicare Supplement plans are convenient and flexible, giving you freedom of choice.
Can I see a specialist whenever I want?
Yes. Just remember that your out-of-pocket costs will be less if you choose a physician who accepts Medicare assignment.