Medicare is a complex system of coverage. It has a soup of parts to understand, enrollment windows to remember and late enrollment penalties to avoid. A key component of the plan is Medicare Supplement insurance, which helps pay the out-of-pocket costs that original Medicare Parts A and B doesn’t cover, such as copayments and deductibles. But how do these policies work, and how do you know if one is the right fit?

The easiest way to figure out is to look at what each plan offers and compare the cost to a person’s monthly budget. In addition to the premium, a person must also consider other out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and coinsurance. To get a more accurate picture of how a Medicare Supplement policy may work for them, a person can find their current policy’s annual renewal mailing and see what the monthly cost will be next year. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services CMS requires that these types of plans send out annual renewal mailings to their enrollees by Sept. 30 each year.

It’s important to keep in mind that a Medicare Supplement policy cannot be cancelled as long as it is paid for. However, a person’s health may affect whether they are approved for the policy. When someone is initially approved for a Medicare Supplement policy, the company will usually ask them to submit medical records and answer questions about their past health history. Those are typically the only times that an individual is required to supply their medical history when purchasing a Medicare Supplement policy.

In many cases, a person can move their Medicare Supplement policy to another state as long as it is the same type of plan. Some Medicare Advantage plans require that a person only use doctors and hospitals in their network. However, most Medicare Supplement policies do not have these types of network limitations.

Many people choose a Plan F Medicare Supplement policy because it offers the most comprehensive coverage of all available Medicare Supplement plans. If a person is not able to sign up for this plan during their open enrollment period, they can still purchase a Medicare Supplement plan, but they will likely pay a penalty. For this reason, it’s best to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan during the six-month period that begins during the first month of being eligible for Part B.

A person’s Medicare Supplement plan can help them cover the costs of medical emergencies while traveling outside of the United States. Plans C, D, F, G and N provide coverage for 80% of the charges that Medicare would normally pay for care in the country where the person is visiting. If a person wants to take their Medicare Supplement plan with them when they travel abroad, they can do so by applying for a Medicare Special Enrollment Period. If they do this, they must include their prior travel history and answers about their health status.