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What is Medigap and Why Do My Parents Need It?

A short introduction to Medicare supplements

Medigap is supplemental insurance for seniors who are on Medicare. Medicare supplements are important because Medicare alone often times does not cover all of the expenses incurred by aging individuals. The unusual name comes from its ability to fill in the holes, or gaps, that Medicare leaves. As these “gaps” can be large enough to place undue financial strain on aging individuals, Medicare supplements are a prudent investment.

Seniors can buy Medicare supplements from traditional health insurance companies; there are 12 separate Medigap plans, ranging from Medigap Plan A to Medigap Plan L. These policies must follow federal and state laws. Each plan has a set of basic and extra benefits. Seniors may purchase as many of these plans as they need, as each serves a different purpose and many prove helpful in some way. If they can't afford to invest in all of the ones that they might need, they should at least invest in one or two that they think they may use most often. Although premiums for Medicare supplements can take a toll on a senior's monthly budget, they can be a financial life saver when encountering costly medical bills, as most aging Americans ultimately do.

"As the child of an aging parent, it is important that you talk to your parents about Medicare supplements."

As the child of an aging parent, it is important that you talk to your parents about Medicare supplements, as many things can happen at their age. For example, even though your parents may be perfectly healthy, one misstep resulting in a fall can land them in the hospital with a leg or hip fracture. These injuries are often costly and usually lead elderly patients to a temporary stay at an assisted living facility while they recover and receive physical therapy, which is also costly. Furthermore, they may need pain medication, visits from a home health nurse, and a walker to help them get around after they return home – all of which a Medicare supplement can help with, if Medicare alone does not fully cover the costs.

Not only can Medicare supplements be a blessing for your parents, but they can be for you as well, by covering expenses that are not covered by Medicare and that your parents may have difficulty paying for.  Plus, even if your parents are lucky enough never to encounter hospital costs that are not covered by regular Medicare, there are Medicare supplements that can help them with the normal, everyday needs of aging Americans, such as prescription medications – something that many seniors are having trouble paying for these days.