Medicare and the Marketplace – September 2013

How will the Health Insurance Marketplace that starts in 2014 affect Medicare and supplemental health insurance coverage?  “The Marketplace is designed to help people who don’t have any health insurance,” says Kris Gross from the state of Iowa’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP).  Iowans on Medicare have health insurance through Medicare. The Marketplace won’t have any effect on their Medicare coverage.

Medicare Part A and B benefits are not changing.  Whether you get your benefits through Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, you will still have the same benefits you have now.  You won’t have to make any changes because of the implementation of the Marketplace.

Likewise, the Marketplace is not changing Medicare supplement insurance.  People on Medicare will still choose from the ten supplemental plans offered today (Plans A-N).  The Marketplace plans are not intended to supplement Medicare. 

The laws and rules governing Medicare supplements are not changing.  People on Medicare will be guaranteed Medicare supplement coverage the first six months they are age 65 or older and go on Medicare Part B for the first time.  Beyond that time most people will need to answer health related questions to determine if they will get coverage.  Plans will not be guaranteed for most people after the initial six month open enrollment period, unlike Marketplace plans where coverage is guaranteed regardless of health.

Marketplace plans do not have a waiting period before they cover pre-existing health conditions.  Medicare supplements waive the pre-existing condition waiting period in some situations, but not all.

Generally, Iowans on Medicare should not make changes to their Medicare supplement coverage because of the Marketplace.  Be wary of anyone who suggests you change your Medicare supplement coverage because of the Marketplace and health reform.  You may want to change your Medicare drug coverage or Medicare Advantage plan during the October 15-December 7 annual open enrollment period because these plans can change premiums, cost sharing and drugs covered annually.

If you have questions about Medicare and the Marketplace call SHIIP at 1-800-351-4664 (TTY 800-735-2942).  Over 350 SHIIP counselors around the state are also available to sit down  and talk with you face-to-face.  SHIIP is a service of the Iowa Insurance Division and all services are free, confidential and objective.  To find the SHIIP site nearest you call 1-800-351-4664 (TTY 800-735-2942), go to or e-mail

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The Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), part of the State of Iowa Insurance Division, provides monthly press releases on topics of interest to the 500,000+ Iowans on Medicare.  The September 2013 press release is included in this e-mail.  You have automatically been signed up to receive our press releases through email distribution.  If you do not wish to receive Press Releases from SHIIP please use the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this email.  If you have any questions, please contact Kris Gross at (515) 242-5190 or