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Senior Health Insurance Information Program

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Medicare is a good start to maintaining health care coverage, but it’s just a start. SHIIP can help you sort through dozens of supplemental coverage plans. Below you’ll find a number of resources to help you make The Right Call.

Click here to view the History of Iowa Standardized Medicare Supplement Rate Changes by Company.

I am turning 65 and going on Medicare. What do I need to know about Medicare supplement insurance?

Buying Medicare supplement insurance is a way to protect yourself from some of the costs not covered by Medicare. It is also called “Medigap” or “Med Supp” insurance. There are 10 standardized Medicare supplement plans identified by the letters "A" through "N." Plan F is also available as a high deductible plan. The benefits in each plan are identical from company to company. SHIIP has a free guide that explains Medicare supplement insurance— "Iowa Medicare Supplement & Premium Comparison Guide". This resource can be found on the left side of this page under "Resources".

If you have an employer-sponsored retiree health plan or receive Medicaid benefits you may not need a Medicare supplement. The SHIIP fact sheet, “Ready to Retire: Health Insurance Issues” provides more information. You can see this fact sheet in the Medicare section of our web site. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, a Medicare Supplement will not pay benefits. Questions? Call SHIIP (800) 351-4664(TTY 800-735-2942).

My wife is 62 and needs insurance. I am retired and on Medicare. What are my wife’s health insurance options until she turns 65 and is eligible for Medicare?

The first option is to investigate the individual health insurance market. If your spouse has no serious medical problems he/she can contact health insurance companies about an individual policy. Call local health insurance agents and discuss policies available to her.

You may use the Marketplace to buy a plan that meets your needs before you are eligible for Medicare. For more information call 1-800-318-2596.

Another option might be HIPIOWA. This is a state program that is designed to provide health insurance to any Iowa resident who is unable to find adequate and affordable health insurance coverage in the private market due to their mental or physical condition. Individuals over 65 and eligible for Medicare are not eligible for this coverage. Those under 65 and entitled to Medicare due to disability are eligible to apply. For more information about eligibility requirements and benefits call 1-877-793-6880.

COBRA, Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, will provide insurance for up to 36 months for the spouse and or children of an employee who has become eligible for Medicare. Any questions or problems should be directed to the regional office of the U.S. Department of Labor toll free at (866) 444-3272. SHIIP also has a brochure on COBRA which is available on the resources section of this page.

Can those who have Medicare because of disability buy a Medicare supplement plan?

A limited number of companies offer Medicare supplement insurance to those with disabilities. SHIIP’s "Iowa Medicare Supplement & Premium Comparison Guide" lists those companies (see the guide under "Resources" on the left side of this page. It is important to note that only a few plans are guarantee issued. Policies that are guarantee issue will accept those with Medicare due to disability no matter what health conditions may exist. The waiting periods for pre-existing conditions should also be checked. This information is found in the premium section of the guide.

Last Updated: 08/07/2019 (JLR)

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