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Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans in California


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What is a Medicare Supplement insurance plan?

In California, a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, also known as Medigap, fills in some of the gaps in Medicare Part A and Part B coverage, including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. Other benefits might also be included, such as medical care for beneficiaries when they travel out of the country.

As the name suggests, a Medicare Supplement insurance plan in California works as an add-on to Medicare Parts A and B coverage. It is not a stand-alone plan. Beneficiaries that want to switch from Medicare Parts A and B need to consider a Medicare Advantage plan rather than a Medicare Supplement. A Medicare Advantage plan is an alternative for Medicare Parts A and B, providing all the same coverage with additional benefits occasionally included.

A Medicare Supplement insurance plan in California will not provide coverage for services like vision and hearing care. Dental coverage is also not included with these plans. Prescription drug benefits are not included in Medicare Supplement insurance plans. Beneficiaries looking for prescription drug coverage should consider enrolling in either a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug benefits or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

Medicare Supplement insurance plans in California are categorized by a letter. Plans with the same letter offer identical benefits. However, the cost of these plans can vary based on the company offering the plan and the location of the plan.

Enrolling in a California Medicare Supplement insurance plan

Beneficiaries may enroll in a Medicare Supplement insurance plan in California during their six-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period, beginning on the first day of the month that they are 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B. During this time, beneficiaries aren’t subject to medical underwriting, which means they cannot be charged higher premiums or denied coverage based solely on medical history or a current medical condition. However, if a beneficiary adds or changes a Medicare Supplement insurance plan at any other time, medical underwriting guidelines will generally apply.

One unique feature of a Medicare Supplement insurance plan in California is known as the “birthday rule.” According to this rule, beneficiaries in the state are allowed to buy a new Medicare Supplement insurance plan for 30 days following their birthday each year. The new plan must have equal or lesser coverage than their original plan. During this “birthday” period, Medicare beneficiaries are not subject to medical underwriting like they would be during other times of the year.

Choosing Medicare Supplement insurance plans in California

The first step in choosing a Medicare Supplement insurance plan in California is to select the plan type that best meets your medical needs. All same-lettered plans will offer similar coverage. Once you have selected a plan type, you can choose your specific plan based on cost. This can vary somewhat between individual plans, since Medicare Supplement insurance plans are offered by private insurance companies.

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