Do You Need A Medicare Supplement?

If you're planning to retire soon, you may be anxious about leaving the world of employer-sponsored healthcare for Medicare. While the varieties of coverages and supplements can seem overwhelming at first, you'll soon become an expert at primary and secondary coverages and calculating your health costs. One important part of the health care puzzle involves supplementary coverage for certain procedures and services that aren't always covered by your ordinary Medicare plan. Read on to learn more about Medicare supplement policies and a few specific situations in which you may benefit from purchasing one.

What is a Medicare supplement?

Medicare is a federally-sponsored health insurance plan with several different components. Parts A and B cover hospital and medical costs -- this can include anything from doctor's visits and immunizations to hospitalizations and diagnostic testing. Although you'll be responsible for copays and some incidental costs before you meet your deductible, most of your medical expenses should be covered by Medicare, even if you undergo an expensive procedure or lengthy hospitalization or rehab stay.

Medicare supplements help protect against gaps in coverage for those who already have a primary Medicare plan. Many of these supplements will offer generous coverage for prescription drug benefits or pay all copays or other partial payments required at the time services are rendered.

When should you purchase a Medicare supplement?

Although you're not required to pay for a Medicare supplement if you already have Parts A and B, these extra benefits can be helpful in certain cases.

If your retirement budget is tight, or you're on a very fixed income (for example, if you receive only a pension, Social Security, or other non-variable income), paying a flat rate for your Medicare supplement and avoiding more frequent out-of-pocket health costs can improve your cash flow. Even if you're only responsible for copays, if you have regular or frequent treatment, these costs can add up to a significant percentage of your monthly income.

Those who frequently engage in international travel may not be subject to the same financial restraints, but could also benefit from purchasing a Medicare supplement. Often, Medicare won't cover the costs of treatment if you fall ill or are injured in a foreign country, while supplemental insurance policies offer a broader range of coverage. Traveling outside the U.S. without at least a temporary health care policy can be an unnecessarily risky prospect with the high health care costs in most industrialized nations.

For more information about the various insurance options you can choose between, you may want to work with a local company like Shifflett Insurance Services Ltd.