By Eliot Raphaelson
By Tribune Content Agency
A question: Can you expand on the difference between the different Medigap plans and which options are no longer available?
Answer: An excellent source of information about alternatives to Medigap is “Medicare & You 2023,” the official US Medicare handbook. The publication is free and mailed to every Medicare household each fall.
From medicare.gov, you can download the brochure as a PDF; available in several languages and in large print format. You can also download it as an e-book for Kindle. If you need it in Braille or in audio format, or if you want a printed version sent to you, call 1-800-MEDICARE or TTY 1-877-486-2048.
The part of “Medicare & You 2023” that addresses this question is Section 5 “Medicare Supplemental Insurance.”
Medigap policies are sold by private companies and are intended to help those with Original Medicare pay some remaining health care costs for services and supplies, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.
There are 10 Medigap plans, and the benefits offered by each of these plans are conveniently described in a chart found in Section 5 of Medicare & You 2023. Medigap generally does not cover long-term care, vision or dental services, hearing aids, glasses, or private nursing care.
Medigap must comply with federal and state laws that are structured to provide you with protection. All of the plans offered provide the same basic benefits, but some, like Plan G, offer additional benefits. In Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, Medigap plans are standardized differently. If you live in one of these states and want more information, go to: Medicare.gov/medigap-supplemental-insurance-plans.
Medicare plans available to people who were new to Medicare on or after January 1, 2020 are not eligible to cover the Part B (health insurance) deductible. Therefore, Medigap Plans C and F are no longer available to individuals who are new to Medicare on or after January 1st. However, if you were eligible for Medicare before January 1, 2020, but have not yet enrolled, you may be able to purchase Plan C or F. People who are new to Medicare after January 1, 2020. , are eligible to purchase Plans D and G, which are comparable in coverage, instead.
The best time to purchase a Medigap policy is during your Medigap open enrollment period. This six-month period starts the first month you have Medicare Part B and are 65 or older. (Some states have additional open enrollment periods.) After this enrollment period, you may not be able to purchase Medigap. It may cost more. If you have delayed enrolling in Part B because of your or your spouse’s current employment, your Medigap open enrollment period will not begin until you sign up for Part B.
If you want unbiased advice about buying Medigap or Medicare Advantage plans, you can ask a representative of your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for free advice. You can get your state’s contact phone number from the Internet or from the back of your Medicare handbook.
A question: I have a retirement plan and am required to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from the plan each year. I also take annual charitable deductions. I would like to take advantage of the Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) option. I am allowed to make a rollover to a traditional IRA from my retirement plan. My advisor suggested that I roll over to an IRA this year and make a charitable gift through the IRA custodian.
Answer: I reviewed this option with an attorney from Ed Slott and Co. (IRAhelp.com). She pointed out that you can do a QCD this year from the newly created IRA. However, since there was no IRA balance in the IRA at the end of 2021, then there is no tax advantage to you this year from the QCD. Only if you itemize will you have a charitable tax deduction. Next year, since there will be an IRA balance at the end of 2022, you could do a QCD in 2023 and get a tax deduction on your 2022 tax return the following year because you will have an IRA balance at the end in 2022 and a required RMD based on your age and IRA balance at the end of 2022. It’s true that you can only take a QCD-related tax deduction from an IRA, not a retirement plan.
(Elliot Raphaelson welcomes your questions and comments at [email protected])
©2022 Elliot Raphaelson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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