While the Medicare Part A plan covers hospital costs there is no coverage for outpatient care such as follow-up visits, nursing services, medical equipment, and vaccinations. This supplemental medicare treatment is usually covered in what is called Part B. However, this plan doesn’t completely cover a patient either. Prescription drugs are not covered in either Part A or B and can be very expensive.
In 1997, a bill was passed that gave Medicare beneficiaries a choice of federal Medicare supplemental care or the use of a private plan known as Medicare + Choice or Part C. In 2003, this private care was extended to include prescription drug coverage and became known as Medicare Advantage. At this time, the term “Medigap” became widely used to refer to any coverage outside of Part A. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) operated as a go-between with these private companies to make sure that these plans were in alignment with federal coverage.
A person must be enrolled in Parts A & B for this type of coverage. Open enrollment should begin within 6 months of turning 65. During this time Medigap coverage is offered without the need of a medical screening. This is due to the fact that it is so close to the Medicare screening approval process. After the 6 month period an issuing provider has the option to request a medical screening.
In January of 2006, a new plan was added to Medicare known as Part D. With this change, older supplementals do not cover prescription drugs. Only beneficiaries with Medigap before this date qualify to continue receiving prescription drugs.
As changes are constant in Medicare supplemental coverage you need to research and understand exactly what each addendum plan covers before deciding on additional coverage.