Medigap Changes That Could Affect You

WASHINGTON D.C. (TheStreet) – In July 2008 the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA) was approved by Congress. Part of the act covered Medigap and introduced some changes effective June 1, 2010. The changes will only affect existing policyholders at the point of their annual renewal.

Medigap is "health insurance sold by private insurance companies to fill the 'gaps' in Original Medicare Plan coverage," according to the Medicare Web site.

One change affecting everyone is an additional benefit included with the basic coverage offered under all Medigap plans. If you take out a Medigap policy on or after June 1, 2010, coverage will include the amount of cost sharing for all Part A Medicare eligible hospice care and respite care expenses.

Prior to the implementation of the new coverage, only those with the high deductable plans K and L received any benefit for this expense, with 50% and 75% coverage of the cost sharing amount respectively. The benefit for plans K and L will remain at the levels before June 1, 2010. You will not gain this benefit if you choose to retain your current plan with the existing benefits.

Other changes were included that could affect your decisions about your choice of Medigap plan. As of June 1, 2010, four plans will be discontinued, two plans will have changes made to the coverage in addition to the hospice and respite care coverage already discussed, and two new plans will be added.

Plans E, H, I and J will be discontinued. This means that, beginning June 1, 2010, these plans will no longer be available for you to purchase. Existing holders of a policy with these plans will be able to renew the same policy when it falls due, but only if the provider continues to offer the plan. If your provider decides not to continue to offer your plan you will not be able to obtain one of the discontinued plans even if you hold a policy for one of the other discontinued plans.

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