What You Need to Know About Medicare – Part 5 of 8

Josh Mungavin, CFP® Principal, Wealth Manager

Josh Mungavin, CFP®
Principal, Wealth Manager

Unforeseen healthcare costs can be one of the most destructive forces to an individual’s financial and retirement plan.  With appropriate forethought, one may reduce the risk of the financial devastation that a large health care bill can cause.  This article discusses the steps one should take to compare Medicare plans and some of the basic plan details with which one will need to be familiar in order to make an informed decision.

Please send this article out to friends and family so that they can forward it to the people in their lives that need this information.  The following will be useful to anyone who is over 60, disabled, has kidney failure, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.


Medigap is a “Supplemental Insurance” policy that is sold and administered by a private company meant to fill the gaps in the coverage provided by Part A and Part B.  Most plans will help with Medicare co-payments and will help with paying for care not otherwise covered by Medicare.  Usually, if you decide to drop Medigap you will not be able to get the same policy again.  You can directly compare Medigap plans by going to  http://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/questions/medigap-home.aspx. When considering a Medigap plan:

  • Be sure to buy your chosen Medigap plan within six months of getting Medicare Part B. Enrolling during the six month open enrollment period will mean you are guaranteed to get the policy you want; otherwise the company can charge you more for the same coverage or can turn you down for coverage all together.
  • Make sure to keep your existing insurance coverage until your Medigap policy is in place to make sure you are not excluded from treatment or charged more for any preexisting conditions. If you do not sign up for coverage during the open enrollment period and have not had six months of medical insurance without a 63 day lapse immediately before enrollment you can be charged more if you have preexisting health problems or they can exclude preexisting condition coverage for up to six months.
  • Medigap plans are labeled A through N and offer different levels of coverage. Each of the letters stands for a standardized plan so you know that you are getting the same coverage with one company’s plan G as you will get with another company’s plan G.  This does not mean that you will pay the same premium with both companies or that the customer experience will be the same, so be sure to compare insurance providers.  The cost will also vary depending on your location and age.

Where to Go For Extra Information

The Medicare Handbook http://medicare.gov/publications/pubs/pdf/10050.pdf

New Enrollee Checklist http://www.medicare.gov/welcometomedicare/checklist.html

The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is funded through grants to help provide information, counseling, and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries and their families with questions related to Medicare, Medigap, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Savings programs, Medicaid, Long Term Care Insurance, and other health insurance issues.

Your State Department of Insurance can be a good source of information with regard to Medicare policies available in your area.

Medicare provides informational resources online at www.Medicare.gov or over the phone at (800) 633-4227.

National PACE Association www.npaonline.org.

The Social Security Administration provides information on Extra Helpwww.socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp or by phone at (800) 772-1213.

Check out our next blog post for more on Medicare. As always feel free to contact Josh Mungavin with any questions by phone 305.448.8882 or email: JMungavin@ek-ff.com