After turning 65 and enrolling in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical care), you have six months to add a Medicare Supplement plan offered by a private insurer like Anthem to your coverage. During this period, you cannot be denied coverage based on your age or health status. After this window closes, you can enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan during the annual open enrollment period that runs from October 15 to December 7, but waiting can cost you more. Some states permit medical underwriting—a process in which insurance companies investigate your medical history to decide whether you’re healthy enough to be insured by their plans—during open enrollment.
Medicare Supplement plans differ from Medicare Advantage plans, in which you substitute a private insurer’s coverage for that of Original Medicare. Original Medicare covers 80% of most expenses and requires you to pay deductibles, copays and coinsurance. Supplement plans, often called Medigap plans, are meant to fill those gaps in coverage. With Anthem Medicare Supplement plans (and those offered by any other provider), you’re covered for services provided by any health care provider or hospital that accepts Medicare patients. You won’t need to submit extra paperwork to get Anthem to pay your health care providers or suppliers.
Anthem and its licensees (operating under some version of a Blue Cross Blue Shield name in many states) offer four Medicare Supplement plans, all of which cover 100% of Medicare Part A and Part B coinsurance and various amounts of other expenses Original Medicare doesn’t cover. Medigap plans are defined by federal and state governments and must offer the same baseline benefits no matter which insurance carrier you use. Once enrolled, you’re guaranteed coverage for life as long as you keep paying your premiums and medical costs for which you are responsible. Medigap plans renew automatically every year unless you decide to switch plans.
One of the most affordable Medicare Supplement plans, Plan N covers the Part A deductible, skilled nursing facility coinsurance and 80% of foreign travel medical expenses. Plans F and G are more expensive and add more coverage. Both include Part B excess charges. F adds coverage of the Part B deductible, but due to recent legislation, it’s only available to people who were eligible to enroll in Medicare before January 1, 2020.
Anthem Medicare Supplement plans include a prescription savings program (ScriptSave/WellRx), but if you take many medications, you may want to purchase an additional Part D prescription drug plan. One warning: If you don’t sign up for a Part D drug plan within 63 days of turning 65, Medicare (not Anthem) charges you a small monthly penalty based on how long you went without Part D coverage.
Prescription drugs are categorized into tiers of coverage. While many plans offer $0 deductibles for some preferred generics, they tend to require copays on more expensive drugs. To decide whether to stick with discounts offered under an Anthem Medicare Supplement plan or purchase an additional Part D plan, calculate how much your current prescription drugs will cost you over the upcoming year.
Most Anthem Medicare Supplement plans include some extras, such as gym memberships, weight loss programs and holistic health programs addressing food security and preventative care. In California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Virginia and Wisconsin, you can purchase additional dental and vision coverage. You can also add long-term care and hearing coverage in some states.
Medigap plans may be advantageous to you if you require a lot of medical care, live in an area with limited health care networks or stay for months at a time in different parts of the country. Since most health care providers and hospitals nationwide participate in Medicare, Anthem Medigap plans allow you to have a care network wherever you live or travel in the U.S..
Anthem is part of the Blue Cross Blue Shield network of insurance providers and offers Medicare Supplement plans in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.