Medicare Supplement plans cover some of the healthcare costs Original Medicare leaves behind. These plans fill your healthcare coverage gaps, including copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance. As a result, when you have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan, you are left with little to no out-of-pocket costs for Medicare-covered services and equipment.
What is a Medicare Supplement Plan?
Medicare Supplement plans are supplemental insurance policies that cover healthcare costs Medicare Part A and Part B leave behind. This means that health care providers bill Medicare first and charge the remaining amount to the Medicare Supplement carrier.
In all but three states, Medicare Supplement plans are identified by letters A through N. Each lettered plan offers different coverage levels for beneficiaries.
The federal government standardizes Medicare Supplement plans, meaning benefits for each lettered plan are consistent across all insurance companies nationwide. Before you begin to compare Medicare Supplement plans, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with the Medicare Supplement pricing methods that carriers use.
Your carrier’s pricing method can affect your Medicare Supplement plan rates and how they increase over time. Additionally, it is essential to note that if you have a Medicare Supplement policy and your spouse needs coverage, they must buy a separate policy.
Generally, Medicare Supplement plans offer individual coverage which is why you and your spouse cannot share a policy. However, not being able to share a policy offers more positives than negatives for spouses. In this case, each spouse can have a plan individualized to meet their own personal health/budget goals.
For example, Ronald and Carolyn are a married couple turning 65 and enrolling in Medicare. Ronald is very healthy and works out every day. Carolyn was recently diagnosed with heart disease and has trouble walking up and down the stairs in their home.
When enrolling in a Medicare Supplement plan, Ronald wants something that is low-cost, and will cover him in an emergency. Carolyn on the other hand, needs to enroll in a plan that offers more comprehensive coverage, as she goes to the doctor at least once a month.
What is the Purpose of Medicare Supplement Plans?
Medicare Supplement plans were designed with one goal in mind: to lower the out-of-pocket costs of Medicare beneficiaries. Once you enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan you can bett4er predict your medical costs for the year.
This predictability helps you stay ahead of unexpected out-of-pocket costs by eliminating them altogether. In addition to predictable costs, there are several benefits that you receive when you enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan.
These benefits include:
- No network restrictions – you can see any doctor or visit any hospital that accepts Original Medicare
- No referrals required when you see a specialist
- Option to enroll in Medicare Part D and dental/vision/hearing coverage
- Coverage is the same in all states
- 12 Unique plans available to fit your needs/budget
- Guaranteed renewable plans – your carrier cannot drop you for any reason other than not paying your premium
If you are looking for a plan that prioritizes convenience and ease, a Medicare Supplement plan may be right for you.
How do Medicare Supplement Plans Work with Original Medicare?
Once you enroll in Original Medicare, you become eligible for a Medicare Supplement plan. When you have Original Medicare, you do not have 100% coverage for Medicare-covered services. This leaves beneficiaries with out-of-pocket costs that can quickly add up.
To offset these costs, beneficiaries can enroll in Medicare Supplement plans. Once Original Medicare pays its portion of the bill, your Medicare Supplement plan will pay second. Depending on the plan you choose, you may not pay anything out of pocket once you meet your plan’s deductible.
After factoring in your monthly premium, Medicare Supplement plans begin saving beneficiaries money as early as their first doctor appointment of the year.
How Much Do Medicare Supplement Plans Cost?
Medicare Supplement prices and premiums vary by ZIP Code and carrier. The same Medicare Supplement plan may cost more in one ZIP Code than another or from one carrier to the next. Depending on the type of Medicare Supplement plan you choose, the average monthly premium can range between $40 and $300.
Several factors determine your Medicare Supplement plan’s premium. Depending on your health and budget needs, a Medicare Supplement plan could save you from high unexpected medical costs. Although premium price is an essential factor when choosing a Medigap plan, it is not the most critical factor. You also want to consider coverage and out-of-pocket expenses.
When is the Best Time to Enroll in a Medicare Supplement?
To be eligible for a Medicare Supplement plan, you must first enroll in Original Medicare. To become eligible for Original Medicare you must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident for at least five years and any of the following:
- age 65 or above
- collect Social Security Disability benefits for at least two years
- diagnosed with ESRD or ALS
After enrolling in Original Medicare, the best time to sign up for a Medicare Supplement plan is during your six-month Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. This enrollment period begins on the first day of the month your Medicare Part B goes into effect.
When you enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan during this time, you have guaranteed issue rights. This means pre-existing conditions cannot play a role in your admittance to the plan. Carriers cannot decline your coverage based on your health history. You may still enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan outside of the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period window, but you may be subject to health questions.
Medicare Supplement Comparison Chart 2022
The chart above outlines the ten lettered and two high-deductible Medicare Supplement plans available to Medicare beneficiaries. These plans are standardized in 47 of 50 states and Washington D.C. This means that coverage does not differ from one state to another, and all carriers must follow the same guidelines.
The three states that offer their own Medicare Supplement plans are Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin. Each of these states have their own individual Medicare Supplement plans that closely follow the rules of the top standardized Medicare Supplement plans.
You can compare Medicare Supplement plans online, but our licensed Medicare agents can help you understand the differences between the various Medicare Supplement plans available to you. Additionally, we can give you accurate premium quotes for the plans from the best carriers you in your area.
What Do Medicare Supplement Plans Cover?
Medicare Supplement Plans cover all the same services Original Medicare covers. Once Original Medicare pays its portion, those without a Medigap plan have a deductible, copayments, or coinsurance. However, you are no longer responsible for all these costs with Medicare Supplement plans.
Depending on the Medicare Supplement plan you enroll in, most or all of your left-over costs from Original Medicare will be covered by the plan. Coverage depends on the plan in which you enroll. Refer to the Medicare Supplement comparison chart above to see what each different lettered plan covers and what you will be responsible for paying.
What is Not Covered by Medicare Supplement Plans?
Medicare Supplement plans do not cover anything not covered by Original Medicare. Medicare Supplement plans are a proper secondary coverage to Original Medicare. Thus, the plans only pay once Original Medicare pays its portion. Each Medicare Supplement plan covers a different percentage of costs. You can see these costs in the comparison chart above.
For example, the most notable benefits Original Medicare and Medicare Supplement plans do not cover are dental, vision, hearing, and prescription drug coverage. However, you are not out of luck for these benefits when you enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan. Beneficiaries often enroll in a stand-alone dental, vision, and hearing plan and Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage to cover their prescription drugs.
What Are the Most Popular Medicare Supplement Plans?
Not all Medicare Supplement plans share the same benefits. So, some plans tend to attract more enrollees than others. Due to their comprehensive coverage, Medicare Supplement Plan F, Plan G, and Plan N are the most popular Medicare Supplement plans nationwide.
If you refer to the Medicare Supplement comparison chart above, you will notice that these three plans offer the most comprehensive coverage of all Medigap plans.
Depending on your budget and healthcare needs, one of these three plans may work best for you. However, not all Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for all plans. Those who received Medicare after January 1, 2020, are not eligible for Medicare Supplement Plan F. So if you are new to Medicare, you may want to look at Medigap Plan G as an alternative.
FAQs About Medicare Supplement Plans
How to Enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan in 2022
If you are considering adding a Medicare Supplement plan to your Medicare benefits, call us at the number above.
If calling now is not an option, complete our online rate form, and one of our agents will reach out to you with your individualized quotes. Our agents will need to collect some additional information to provide you with the most accurate rate quote on all your supplemental options.
Once you submit the required information, we can pull all the plans available in your area with all the top carriers, considering your information and health history. Why wait? Our services are 100% free and can save you money on your monthly Medicare premiums.
- When Can I Buy Medigap, Medicare. Accessed February 2022.
- Medigap, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Accessed February 2022.