If you’re currently using Medicare as your primary form of health insurance you already know that Medicare, like most forms of health insurance, limits the patient’s options to specific physicians and health-related services. Fortunately, in Washington State, as in all states, there are programs through which Medicare recipients can expand their health coverage. One such option is through Medigap, a form of supplemental health insurance which provides Medicare recipients with a way to get coverage for expenses not covered by Medicare. An alternative to Medigap is Medicare Advantage, a supplemental health insurance policy that provides patients with an expanded network of doctors and coverage for additional services, depending on the plan they choose. To best determine which of these plans will best suit your needs, it’s critical to understand what each plan offers and how each plan works.
If you’re looking for maximal flexibility in terms of choice of physicians and what services are covered, Medicare Advantage may be just the health coverage you’re seeking. There are dozens of Medicare Advantage plans offered in the state of Washington, and their monthly premiums range in price from $19 to over $200, depending on the services covered. It’s important to understand that Medicare Advantage services are regional, and that if you’re interested in this type of coverage you should look for a plan not only that fits your budget, but one that is available in your area. Supplemental services that may be covered by a Medicare Advantage plan include dental care, vision and hearing aids, all of which are not covered by Medicare or by Medigap. To learn which coverage is offered and how much it costs, fill out the zip code form to compare plans and rates immediately.
In contrast to the choice of plans and services available under the Medicare Advantage umbrella, Medigap coverage in Washington State is uniform in its coverage regardless of the provider, though prices still vary. Consequently, while those shopping for Medicare Advantage will want to weigh the cost of the plan against the coverage offered, consumers opting for Medigap coverage should look for the least expensive plan with the confidence that they’ll be receiving the same services as those who choose a more expensive Medigap provider. Medigap also differs from Medicare Advantage because it serves purely to supplement the fees not covered by Medicare, such as deductibles, and does not expand the network of physicians or the range of services covered.
Enrollment for Medicare Advantage in Washington State takes place during Medicare Open Enrollment, which starts October 15 and goes through December 7 each year. During this time patients can change plans, join a Medicare Advantage plan, or switch back to standard Medicare coverage. Medicare Advantage plans are “guaranteed issue,” meaning that applicants cannot be rejected for this form of health insurance, except in the case of patients with end stage renal disease who are not eligible for Medicare Advantage in the state of Washington.
Comparatively, the best time to purchase Medigap coverage is when enrolling for Medicare, around the time you turn 65. It may be possible to enroll afterwards, but prices are likely to be higher as the applicant gets older. Still, while no patient can be denied Medigap coverage, some companies may require a waiting period of six months before covering costs related to pre-existing conditions, especially for those enrolling after age 65.
To find the perfect plan and to compare prices side-by-side, fill out the zip code form and get started immediately.
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