Can I Use my Medicare Supplement Plan to Pay my Medicare Part B Premium?
This article was updated on: 06/10/2019
The simple answer is no – you cannot use a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan to pay your Medicare Part B premium.
Medicare Supplement plans are offered by private insurance companies to pay some of the out-of-pocket costs not covered by Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). These costs may include:
- Part A and Part B deductibles (a set dollar amount you must pay out-of-pocket before your Medicare insurance begins paying for covered services)
- Part A and Part B coinsurance (your share– often 20% – of the Medicare-approved cost for covered services that remains after Medicare pays its portion)
Some Medicare Supplement plans may also provide benefits not covered by Medicare Part A or Part B. For example, some plans may provide supplemental coverage for emergency care you receive while traveling abroad (80% of certain approved charges, up to plan limits) – a deductible amount may apply. Some plans may cover Medicare Part B excess charges from doctors who do not accept Medicare assignment.
In 47 states, there are up to 10 standardized Medicare Supplement plans, each labeled with a letter, such as Medicare Supplement Plan B. (Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have their own standardized plans.) Please note that Medicare Part B is not the same as Medicare Supplement Plan B.
None of the standardized Medicare Supplement plans available in most states pays your Medicare Part B premium. There is a monthly premium for Part B coverage, which you must pay Medicare if you have Part B—even if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan offered by a Medicare-approved private insurance company or you are enrolled in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in 2019 the standard premium cost for Medicare Part B is $135.50 per month, although the exact amount you’ll pay depends on your situation.
How can I get help with my Medicare Part B premium costs?
Although a Medicare Supplement plan can’t help pay your Medicare Plan B premium, other state-administered programs may help pay these costs if you qualify for certain assistance programs. For example, Medicare and your state Medicaid program work together to provide Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs).
You may qualify for help under one of the MSPs in your state. If so, the state may pay your Part B premium, and you might also automatically qualify for low-cost prescription drug coverage within the Medicare Part D program. To be eligible for an MSP that might help pay your Part B premium, your income and savings must be below certain limits, which vary according to the state in which you live.
Four kinds of MSP, each with a different income limit, are available to qualified Medicare beneficiaries. Three of them may pay Part B premiums: the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) program, the Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) program, and the Qualified Individual (QI) program.
If you qualify for an MSP, you might also automatically be enrolled in Medicare’s Part D’s Extra Help program. As a participant in the Extra Help program, you pay no premium or deductible for prescription drug coverage and your copay for prescriptions are reduced.
To find out if you’re eligible for an MSP, contact your state medical assistance office (Medicaid). You can get the phone number by calling the Medicare help line at 1-800-633-4227 (TTY users call 1-877-486-2048). Medicare representatives are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), where you can get personal help, at no charge, from counselors trained on all Medicare and Medicaid issues. For contact information go to the SHIP website and click on “Contact your state SHIP.
If you are interested in learning more about your Medicare insurance coverage and options, you are welcome to contact me. Use the links on this page to schedule a call from me or request personalized Medicare plan options to review via email. If you want to compare plans right now, use the Find Plans button on this page.
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