06/20/10 — New Medigap updates going into effect in June

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New Medigap updates going into effect in June

By Staff Reports
Published in News on June 20, 2010 1:50 AM

Medigap, also known as Medicare supplement, coverage is undergoing some changes.

Medigap policies are private insurance policies sold by insurance companies through licensed agents.

Beginning January 1992, Medigap policies became standardized, and there are no differences in the plans among insurance carriers. Medigap policies are regulated by the state and must also comply with federal rules.

Prior to June 1 there were 12 different standardized Medigap plans available that were identified by characters A through L (plus a high deductible version of Plans F and J).

In July 2008, Congress passed The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, which authorized states to implement recommendations from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to update the Medicare Supplement model effective June 1.

The changes effective June 1 include:

* A hospice benefit is being added as a basic benefit to all plans sold. This benefit will cover costsharing for all Part A eligible hospice and respite care expenses.

* Medigap plans E, H, I, J, and the high deductible version of Plan J are no longer be available for purchase. People who purchased these policies prior to June 1 can keep them as the plans are guaranteed renewable for as long as premium continues to be paid.

* Two new plans, Plan M and Plan N, have been added. These plans have a higher cost-sharing (deductibles, co-payments) but are expected to have a lower premium cost. People wishing to apply for one of these new policies can do so, but companies are not required to issue them. People's current companies may offer an opportunity to exchange existing policies for a new 2010 standardized policies, but they are not required by law to make this offer.

For questions concerning Medigap or any other Medicare product, call the Seniors' Health Insurance Information Program at 1-800-443-9354. Counselors are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.