Emotional Wellbeing

Mandy Kloppers

Everything You Need to Know About Supplemental Health Insurance

It’s no secret that there’s a lot of confusion about health insurance in the United States and how exactly it works. In fact, there’s so much confusion that many people are surprised to learn that their health insurance plan doesn’t cover everything. That’s right. Most traditional health insurance plans only cover what’s defined as “essential” coverage. Any “extras” like dental, vision, and so on are excluded.  


So what does that mean if you want to, for example, visit your dentist? You can still do that, but you’ll need to pay out of pocket. That is, unless you have supplemental health insurance. Supplemental health insurance fills in all those gaps in coverage that you’d have to pay for out of pocket otherwise. In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know about supplemental health insurance so you can make the best decision about your own coverage.  



Image via Pexels 

What is Supplemental Health Insurance 

Like we said before, very few Americans fully understand health insurance and how it works. They might not even understand their own coverage. A 2016 survey discovered that only 4% of Americans are able to correctly define the four terms that determine how much they need to pay for medical services under their current insurance plan.  


The truth is we could all use more education when it comes to understanding our own coverage. That’s why we’re going to take such a close look at supplemental insurance. So what exactly is supplemental health insurance? This is a type of health insurance plan that covers anything above and beyond minimum essential medical coverage. The federal government defines minimum essential medical coverage, and “extras” like dental, disability insurance and long-term care are not included.  


Supplemental health plans not only add additional medical coverage, but they can also contribute financially to your basic health insurance plan. For instance, a supplemental plan could mean paying less for co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles. Here are a few of the most well-known supplemental plan types: 


  • Dental insurance – Dental insurance is only covered in traditional plans for adults. To learn more about dental plans that are right for you, talk to your employer or visit an online marketplace.  
  • Vision insurance – Like dental coverage, vision insurance is considered to not be essential, even though the costs for vision exams and eyewear is on the rise.  
  • Disability insurance – Disability coverage will provide assistance if you find yourself unable to work after a physical disability.  
  • Long term care insurance – Similar to disability coverage, if you’re in need of long-term care whether in a treatment center or with an at-home aid, long term care insurance will help. 
  • Critical illness insurance – Finally, critical illness insurance assists with the high costs that can be associated with certain critical illnesses.  


Image via Pexels 

How Does Supplemental Health Insurance Work? 

While the list of supplemental plan options is not limited to the short selection above, how do these plans work? Like with traditional insurance, supplemental benefits will be related to how much you’re willing to pay. There are different tiers of coverage you can choose from, and some will offer additional benefits and coverage than others.  


In general, your traditional health insurance plan will offer coverage first, in the case of long term care for example, and then your supplemental benefits will go into effect once these are no longer available. To understand just how your supplemental plan will work, talk to your provider.  

Who Needs Supplemental Coverage? 

You might be thinking that you don’t need all of the coverage listed above, and you might be right. We all leave different lives, and no two people will use the same amount of insurance coverage. While it’s hard to anticipate your medical needs in the future, you can think about your lifestyle as well as your medical needs in the past.  


If you’re prone to dental problems, paying for dental insurance is a must to keep costs down. If you’re at risk for critical illness, it might be worth paying for this coverage as well. An insurance agent and your doctor can help assess your unique risk factors and what types of plans will best suit you. The good news is supplemental coverage is much more affordable than traditional health insurance, so it’s not usually a huge expensive to add on additional benefits.  


Are you sure you’re fully covered in the ways that matter the most? If you’re unsure whether your traditional health insurance is cutting it, it’s time to talk to your provider. You might have gaps in coverage you didn’t even know about. Now that you understand supplemental health insurance, you’re equipped to make smarter decisions to protect your health.  

Mandy X