Many of those enrolled in Original Medicare cover their out-of-pocket costs by purchasing a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan. If you’re on a fixed income and this isn’t an affordable option for you, don’t give up. A Medicare SELECT plan may be just what you’re looking for!

A Medicare SELECT plan is essentially a less expensive twist on a traditional Medicare Supplement or Medigap plan. To review, most states offer 10 standardized Medicare Supplement plans (Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin work a little differently). Medicare Supplements pair with Original Medicare to assist with the “gaps” in coverage. These plans help with the deductibles and copay cost that are normally paid out-of-pocket. Each plan has individual coverage benefits and premium costs vary to reflect this.

What Makes Medicare SELECT Different?

If Medicare SELECT plans are essentially Medigap plans, how can they cost less? Well, the downside to their lower premiums is that in order for your plan to cover you, you must receive treatment within the plan’s provider network. They essentially operate in the manner of an HMO, which means you may also need to get a referral from your primary care physician before you see a specialist or to visit the hospital in the network. The one exception to this is in the case of an emergency.

What’s the Benefit?

Since the plan can negotiate prices with the health care providers in the network, Medicare SELECT plans often have less expensive premiums than traditional Medigap. This can make a SELECT plan extremely attainable for a senior that’s living on a budget.

However, because Medicare SELECT plans focus on specific areas, they are not offered everywhere. It’s very possible that the Medicare Supplement insurance companies in your area do not offer Medicare SELECT plans.

If you’re looking at Medicare plans, a Medicare SELECT plan is worth checking out. The most important step is to consider the network. If you want to keep your current primary care physician, it’s especially important to see that they’re included as a covered health care provider in that plan’s network. One advantage of a Medicare SELECT plan is that you can try it for 12 months and switch back if you don’t like it. At any point within that period, you can disenroll. You can then enroll in a standard Medigap plan.

All told, a Medicare SELECT plan isn’t for everyone, but can help many seniors find affordable coverage to bolster Original Medicare. If there’s a Medicare SELECT plan near you that has a suitable network, this may be a great option that may save you money while offering the same quality coverage you’ve come to expect.

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Use the Medicareful Plan Finder to connect with a local, licensed sales agent who can help you find if there are Medicare SELECT plans in your area and if they are a good fit for you.