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If you’re an Original Medicare beneficiary in Washington, you may be wondering how to lower your out-of-pocket costs. After all, Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) doesn’t cover everything; you’ll typically still have cost sharing and certain gaps in your coverage. If you have a health condition that requires ongoing treatment or frequent doctor visits, your Medicare Part A and Part B copayments, coinsurance, and deductible costs can quickly add up. In addition, because Original Medicare doesn’t have a maximum spending limit, there’s no cap on how high your health-care costs could get in a given year.
Thankfully, Medicare Supplement plans in Washington may help cover some of the costs not paid for by Original Medicare. Also referred to as Medigap, Medicare Supplement insurance is designed to work in combination with Medicare Part A and Part B to cover certain cost-sharing expenses, including copayments, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. Medigap plans may also cover benefits like emergency health coverage when you’re traveling and out of the country. Two Medigap plans include an annual out-of-pocket limit as a covered benefit: After you’ve reached your yearly Medicare Part B deductible and your out-of-pocket yearly limit, the Medigap plan will pay for 100% of covered medical expenses for the rest of the year.
Medigap plans do not provide coverage for prescription medications, but you can enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan if you are interested in adding this benefit to your Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, coverage. Keep in mind that Medicare Supplement insurance only works with Original Medicare; these plans can’t be used to pay for costs if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.
There were 10 different types of Medigap plans available in most states, including Washington. Each Medicare Supplement insurance plan is designated by a letter of the alphabet, from A through N. Medigap plans of the same letter category offer standardized benefits, regardless of which insurance company you purchase from or the county that you live in.
Medicare Supplement insurance plans in Washington are offered by insurance companies that are approved by Medicare. These plans come with a separate monthly premium, which you’ll need to pay in addition to your Medicare Part B premium.
Keep in mind that while the coverage may be the same for Medigap plan types across different insurance companies, the cost of the individual plan can vary.
Medicare Supplement insurance doesn’t have set enrollment periods throughout the year, and you can apply to join a Medigap plan at any time after you’re eligible (if the Medigap plan is accepting new applicants and will enroll you). However, you’ll generally have the most options available to you and pay the lowest costs if you enroll in a Medicare Supplement insurance plan during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This is the six-month period that starts automatically once you’re both enrolled in Medicare Part B and at least 65 years old. During this period, you have guaranteed-issue rights, meaning you can join any Medigap plan offered in your area, regardless of health issues you may have. During this period, Medigap insurance companies aren’t allowed to use pre-existing conditions* as the basis for charging higher premiums or rejecting a beneficiary’s application.
Once this period is over, you can’t get it again, although you may have guaranteed-issue rights in certain situations. You may have more difficulty finding a Medigap plan that will accept you if you have health problems.
When comparing Medicare Supplement insurance plans in Washington, determining the type of plan that will meet your specific coverage needs is a good first step. Once the plan type and level of coverage you want is narrowed down, you can then research and compare quotes from different insurance companies in the state to find the Medigap plan options that offer the best value.
It is important to note that Medicare Supplement insurance plans with lower monthly premiums may have higher out-of-pocket expenses. When comparing plan options, think of both the monthly cost and the maximum amount you’d like to pay each year for medical care. This will give you a better idea of which plan option may be a good fit for your budget.
eHealth makes it easy to compare Medigap plan options in your area side by side. To look up Medigap plan options in your county, simply enter your zip code into the plan finder tool on this page to get started.
*Pre-existing conditions are generally health conditions that existed before the start of a policy. They may limit coverage, be excluded from coverage, or even prevent you from being approved for a policy; however, the exact definition and relevant limitations or exclusions of coverage will vary with each plan, so check a specific plan’s official plan documents to understand how that plan handles pre-existing conditions.
eHealth's Medicare website is operated by eHealthInsurance Services, Inc., a licensed health insurance agency doing business as eHealth. The purpose of this site is the solicitation of insurance. Contact may be made by an insurance agent/producer or insurance company. eHealth and Medicare supplement insurance plans are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program. We offer plans from a number of insurance companies.