Beneficiaries often choose to go with a Medicare supplement plan, also known as Medigap, to help with some of the additional health care costs that aren’t covered by Original Medicare. These costs include copayments, coinsurance and deductibles.

Medigap is sold by private companies and may sometimes include coverage for services not covered by Original Medicare, such as when you travel outside the U.S. It’s essential to keep in mind that Medigap is different from Medicare Advantage – Medicare Advantage offers plan subscribers Medicare benefits while Medigap supplements Original Medicare.

There are several choices when it comes to Medicare plans. Medicare Advantage plans, prescription drug plans, Medicaid, employer or union plans, TRICARE, veterans’ benefits and long-term care insurance policies are not Medigap plans.

What to know about Medigap policies
When you’re choosing your Medicare coverage, there are things to know about Medigap policies before making your final decision:

  • In order to enroll in Medigap, you must have Medicare Parts A and B.
  • Those who plan on applying for a Medigap policy but have Medicare Advantage will want to ensure that they can leave that plan before Medigap coverage begins.
  • Spouses will each have to enroll in Medigap coverage, similar to Medicare, as a policy only provides coverage to one individual.
  • When paying a monthly premium, it goes to the private insurance company providing your policy.
  • Medigap policies don’t cover prescription drugs so those who take medications will want to join a Part D plan.
  • A Medigap policy will typically not provide you with coverage for long-term care, vision or dental care, hearing aids, eyeglasses or private-duty nursing.

Traveling with Medigap
Now that you’ve reached retirement age and have more time on your hands, you may decide you want to do a little traveling outside of the U.S. Your Medigap policy may help you stay protected while you’re out of the country.

Medigap may offer additional coverage for health care services or supplies you obtain while outside the U.S. Standard Medigap plans including C, D, F, G, M and N offer foreign travel emergency health care coverage. If you purchased plans E, H, I and J, which are no longer for sale, you’ll also have coverage for emergency health care while out of the country.

There’s a $250 deductible for the year and once you meet it plans C, D, E, F, G, H, I J, M and N will pay for 80 percent of the billed charges for certain medically necessary emergency care outside of the U.S.

There is a lifetime limit of $50,000 on Medigap foreign travel emergency coverage. In order for your Medigap policy to cover any emergency care, it must occur during the first 60 days of your trip and your Original Medicare plan must not already cover it. If you’re planning on leaving the country, talk with your Medigap plan provider for more information on foreign health coverage.