Private Insurance Plans

While Medicare benefits provide an important component of health insurance for people 65 and over, it only provides the foundation of a comprehensive insurance coverage plan. It is advisable to investigate other kinds of private insurance plans that can provide coverage for services, medications, and equipment that are not provided by Medicare.

Employer or Union Health Coverage

Elders (or family members) may have health coverage based on current or past employment that will help pay deductibles and other expenses not covered by Medicare. It is important to contact the benefits administrator of the union or employer to understand what the coverage includes and what it costs. The employer or union generally has the right to change benefits and premiums or stop offering coverage, so it is important to watch for notices regarding coverage and keep them on file. Prescription drug coverage, in particular, may change annually.


When an elder is not covered by an employer or union health care plan, it is possible to buy a supplemental policy to help bridge the gaps in the Original Medicare Plan. These policies are called Medigap insurance.

Medigap policies must follow federal and state laws and have certain standardized benefits, so you can compare them. Costs do vary, and cost should be the only difference between standard Medigap policies. Standard policies cover co-payments for outpatient visits, deductibles for hospitalization, skilled nursing facilities, mental health benefits, and other specialized services. Medigap policies may also offer additional services for extra cost that may be helpful for the elder in your care, such as vision care.

Medicare does not pay for any of the costs of a Medigap policy. To buy a Medigap policy, you must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.

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