The MedicareSupplement.com News Center reported making a clarification that many are confused due to the name Medigap. Many seniors think that one of the “gaps” these Medicare insurance plans cover in traditional Medicare is prescription drug coverage. But they do not – at least all of the Medigap plans since the revamping of the plans in 2006, and more recent overhaul in June 2010, do not.
According to the website medicare.gov, prior to 2006, there were Medigap plans, notably H, I, and J, that did provide prescription drug coverage. These represent 3 out of the 4 Medigap plans that were eliminated in June 2010, only adding to the confusion. As explained on the Medicareinformational website, medicare.gov, Medicare Part D was introduced in 2006 to replace standardized Medigap polices that covered prescription drugs and to breakout prescription drug coverage from Medigap coverage. At that timepeople who were enrolled in one of the Medicare supplemental plans that had drug coverage were offered the choice of keeping those plans, changing them, or dropping the prescription drug coverage from them, and opting for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.
Since all lettered Medigap plans sold after 2006 did not offer prescription drug coverage, Medicare Part D is now the only prescription drug coverageavailable for seniors with original government Medicare and a Medigap plan. When purchasing prescription drug coverage only, to add to original Medicare, you are purchasing what is also known as a PDP, or Prescription Drug Plan. You may, during the open enrollment period, decide to switch out of original Medicare and into a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage, also called a MA-PD.
If you have a pre-2006 Medigap plan that does have prescription drug coverage you still have a few options. If you are happy with that coverage you may continue to keep it and pay the premiums, EVEN IF THE PLAN HAS BEEN ELIMINATED.
You may also opt to switch to a Medigap plan that does not have prescription drug coverage, and then enroll in Part D. Many Medicare advisors believe this is advantageous, because the prescription drug benefits offered by Part D exceed those in the Pre-2006 Medigap plans, and you may actually be able to lower your monthly premiums, and improve your benefits by switching to one of the newly offered low-cost Medigap plans such as N or M, and then enrolling in Part D.
Also be advised that there are only certain enrollment periods for Medicare Part D; so do not drop any existing drug benefits until you are enrolled in Medicare D. For more information about Medicare, Medigap plans, and Medicare Part D, visit medicare.gov.