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If you have a Medicare supplement (Medigap) policy or are turning 65 this year, you need to be aware of the changes that are occurring this month. These changes have nothing to do with health care reform and were suggested by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in order to better protect consumers. Effective June 1, 2010, these changes were and designed to close coverage gaps in the existing plans. Here are the highlights from Medicare’s web site.

  • Basic Benefits – Starting with policies effective on or after June 1, 2010, Hospice Part A coinsurance (outpatient prescription drug and inpatient respite care coinsurance) will be covered. Plan K will cover 50% of the costs and Plan L will cover 75% of these costs.
  • Part B Coinsurance – Plans K, L, and N will require you to pay a portion of Part B coinsurance and copayments, which may result in lower premiums for these plans. All other Medigap policies pay them at 100%.
  • New Plans Offered – Plans M and N are new choices.
  • Plans D and G – Plans D and G effective on or after June 1, 2010 have different benefits than D or G Plans bought before June 1, 2010.
  • Plans No Longer for Sale – Plans E, H, I, and J will no longer be sold after May 31, 2010. But, if you already have or you buy Plan E, H, I, or J before June 1, 2010, you can keep that plan.

Another plus is that companies will be able to reset their premiums because of the added hospice benefit. This means that there will be more competition in the marketplace, possibly leading to lower cost coverage.

Medicare has published a guide to help you when selecting the plan that will be most beneficial for your individual circumstance.

If all of this seems overwhelming, don’t worry. There are insurance specialists who receive continuing education on plan availability. We will be hosting a Lunch and Learn in June to help you decide if your current plan remains your best coverage option or whether one of the new plans would better suit your situation.

Chris Carleton, CFP®