I’m retired – do I need Medicare Supplement insurance?

Pamela Cannaday by Pamela Cannaday | Licensed since 2011
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This article was updated on: 09/16/2018

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I am retired, do I qualify for Medicare?

Are you retired and looking for health-care coverage? You may have various Medicare plan options available to you, including a Medicare Supplement plan.

Keep in mind that Medicare eligibility is not tied to employment status but rather age, disability status, and certain health conditions. While the traditional retirement age is 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, some Americans retire younger or older than this age.  However, if you retire younger than 65 -for example, at age 62 – you may not yet be eligible for Medicare. Medicare is generally limited to people 65 and older, people receiving Social Security disability benefits, and people with end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

What can a Medicare Supplement plan do for me?

Medicare Part A usually covers hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, hospice, and some other inpatient care. Medicare Part B generally covers doctor visits, durable medical equipment, ambulance services, and other medically necessary services and supplies. Part A and Part B both have a yearly deductible (an amount you must pay before your insurance pays) and copayments and coinsurance (usually a percentage of the Medicare-approved costs you must pay or a dollar amount for certain services). For Part A, the coinsurance is a set dollar amount you pay for each day in the hospital within a certain range of days over 60. (Day 1-60 has $0 coinsurance for each benefit period.) For Part B, the coinsurance is typically 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for most doctor services, outpatient therapy and durable medical equipment.

A Medicare Supplement plan can help with these out-of-pocket costs including copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Some Medicare Supplement plans offer limited coverage of emergency care during foreign travel, which Medicare Part A and Part B generally don’t cover, and some plans have out-of-pocket maximums. Once you’ve reached your out-of-pocket maximum, you generally pay nothing more for your covered services for the rest of the calendar year. Keep in mind that Medicare Part A and Part B have no out-of-pocket maximums. This means that if you receive extensive medical services or face prolonged hospitalization, you may be responsible for significant costs. A Medicare Supplement plan could cover some of those costs.

To get prescription drug coverage, you will need to sign up separately for a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan.

If you’d like to explore a different way to get your Medicare benefits, learn about Medicare Advantage plans. Just remember that you can’t have a Medicare Advantage plan with Medicare Supplement plan.

After retiring, how can I enroll in Medicare and buy a Medicare Supplement policy?

To enroll in a Medicare Supplement policy you must first be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. If you are retired and getting benefits from Social Security at least 4 months before you turn 65, you may be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B starting the first day of the month you turn 65. In some cases, you may not be getting Social Security benefits when you turn 65, because, for example, you have chosen to work until age 67. In that case, when you retire at age 67 you will have to sign up with Social Security to get Medicare Part A and Part B.

Once you are enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B, you may be able to buy a Medicare Supplement policy from any insurance company in your state that is licensed to sell you one. You cannot combine a Medicare Supplement plan with a Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plan or a Medicare Advantage plan.

If you decide to buy a Medicare Supplement plan, you might want to do so during your six-month Medicare Supplement Period (starting when you’re both at least 65 years old and enrolled in Medicare Part B). During this time period, an insurance company can’t deny you a Medicare Supplement plan – or charge you a higher premium – if you have a health condition (although a waiting period may apply before your health condition is covered). Outside this period, you can apply for a Medicare Supplement plan anytime, but you might have to undergo a health evaluation and you could have to pay a higher premium, and it’s not guaranteed that you’ll be accepted into the plan.

If you would like to know more about Medicare Supplement plans for retirees, please feel free to reach out to me. If you prefer, you can schedule a phone call or request an email by clicking on the buttons below. You can also find out about plan options in your area by clicking the Compare Plans button.

The product and service descriptions, if any, provided on these Medicare.com Web pages are not intended to constitute offers to sell or solicitations in connection with any product or service. All products are not available in all areas and are subject to applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

Medicare Supplement insurance plans are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the Federal Medicare program.

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