Medicare supplement insurance plan overview:
Medicare supplement insurance plans are usually limited to 10 standard plans in most states, to make your shopping just a little easier. They usually run from plan A, which is the core plan that covers only the basic benefits and is available in all states, through plan J., which is the most comprehensive and expensive of the Medicare supplement insurance plans. By law, these insurance plans can not vary from state to state or from company to company. Also, to make it even a little easier, the language and terminology used in the policies are standardized in these Medicare supplement insurance plans.
There are always exceptions however in that not all states carry every one of the Medicare supplement insurance plans, and a few states (such as Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin), have their own versions of these plans. Although there are many aspects of these programs that are standardized to make it easier to purchase these plans, your loved one in Minnesota may not be able to buy the same Medicare supplement insurance plan as another individual in Illinois.
Another thing to consider is that any of the standardized plans can be sold as “Medicare Select” policies which work like managed-care plans. According to these plans, individuals are required to use designated doctors, clinics and hospitals within a “network”, but usually pay less for the plan. Finally, insurers are also allowed to add benefits to a standard Medicare supplement insurance plan, making it just a little less standardized.
In spite of all these efforts at standardization, you or your loved one should read the policies carefully for any Medicare supplement insurance plan you are interested in. You should always make sure that you understand completely what is covered and what exclusions or restrictions may exist in your prospective program. Ask the company for a very simply worded summary, which companies are required to provide. You should make sure that your loved one is actually comparing apples and apples, so that they can decide with relative ease which Medicare supplement insurance plan is the best program for them. They should then shop around and find out who has the best price and best services, along with being the most stable and reliable companies providing these Medicare supplement insurance plans.
Some information from How to Care for Aging Parents by Virginia Morris
Additional information and web page by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist Clinical Director- Senior Care Psychological Consulting