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Medicare Supplement Plans


Medicare Supplement plans cover some of the healthcare costs Original Medicare leaves behind. These plans fill your coverage gaps, including copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance. As a result, when you have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan, you will have little-to-no out-of-pocket costs for Medicare-covered services and equipment.

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What Are Medicare Supplement Plans?

Medicare Supplement plans are supplemental insurance policies that cover healthcare costs Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) leave behind. Providers bill Medicare first and charge the remaining amount to the Medicare Supplement carrier.

In 47 states, Medicare Supplement plans are identified by letters A through N. Each lettered plan offers a different coverage level. This type of coverage is also known as Medigap.

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’s monthly premium rates and how it will 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 individualized plans to fit their unique health and budget goals.

For example, Ronald and Carolyn are a married couple turning 65 and enrolling in Medicare. Ronald is very healthy and exercises every day. Carolyn was recently diagnosed with heart disease and had trouble walking up and down the stairs in their home.

When enrolling in a Medicare Supplement plan, Ronald wants something low-cost and will cover him in an emergency. On the other hand, Carolyn needs to enroll in a plan that offers more comprehensive coverage, as she goes to the doctor at least once a month.

How Do Medicare Supplement Plans Work?

Medicare Supplement plans achieve one goal: lowering out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries. Once you enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan, you can better predict your medical expenses for the year.

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This predictability helps you avoid unexpected out-of-pocket costs by eliminating them. In addition to predictable costs, you receive several benefits 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 are required when you see a specialist
  • Coverage is the same in all states
  • 12 Unique plan options 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.

What is a Medicare Supplement?

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 your plan, 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 you money as early as your first doctor appointment of the year.

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 these out-of-pocket costs with Medicare Supplement plans.

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Depending on the Medicare Supplement plan you choose, the policy will cover most or all of your left-over costs from Original Medicare. Refer to the Medicare Supplement comparison chart above to see what each 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 Original Medicare does not cover. Medicare Supplement plans are a proper secondary coverage to Original Medicare. Thus, the plans only pay after 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 stand-alone dental, vision, and hearing plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage alongside their Original Medicare and Medicare Supplement coverage.

When is the Best Time to Enroll in a Medicare Supplement?

To be eligible for a Medicare Supplement plan, you must enroll in Original Medicare. To qualify 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 Income (SSDI) 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 affect 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 the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period window, but you may be subject to health questions.

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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 your type of Medicare Supplement plan, 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 crucial to consider when choosing a Medigap plan, it is not the only factor. You should also understand coverage and other out-of-pocket expenses.

When choosing a Medicare Supplement plan, it is essential to understand the carrier’s pricing method to determine the cost of your coverage. There are three main pricing methods. They include:

  • Community-rated – Carriers who use community rating do not base rate increases on gender or age. Premium increases are the same across the board for anyone using community rating.
  • Issue-age – Carriers who use issue-age rating base their premium on the age you are when you enroll in the plan. Your price will always be consistent with that of a person enrolling at the age you enrolled.
  • Attained age – Carriers who use attained age ratings will increase your premium based on your current age, regardless of how old you were when you enrolled in the plan.

Whichever pricing method is used by your carrier, your Medicare Supplement Plan’s premium will increase due to outside factors such as annual inflation.

Medicare Supplement Comparison Chart 2022

Medicare Supplement Plans 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 different Medicare Supplement plan types are Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin. Each of these states has its own 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 available in your area.

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.

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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, your most comprehensive option is Medicare Supplement Plan G.

FAQs About Medicare Supplement Plans

What is Medicare gap insurance?
Medicare gap (Medigap) insurance is another name for Medicare Supplement plans. The name comes from the fact that these policies fill in the gaps in coverage that Original Medicare leaves you to pay out-of-pocket.
When can you get supplemental Medicare insurance?
Once you enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B, you have a six-month window to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan without having to answer health questions – which can result in denial from a policy. Once this window passes, you can still enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan at any time. However, you will need to go through medical underwriting.
Can I have two Medicare Supplemental plans?
No, you cannot have multiple Medicare Supplement plans at one time. Agents and carriers cannot sell more than one plan to an individual beneficiary. Also, you cannot simultaneously have a Medicare Supplement plan and a Medicare Advantage plan. You must choose one or the other.

How to Enroll in Medicare Supplement Plans 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 additional information to provide you with the most accurate rate quote on all your supplemental options.

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Sources:

MedicareFAQ is dedicated to providing you with authentic and trustworthy Medicare information. We have strict sourcing guidelines and work diligently to serve our readers with accurate and up-to-date content.

  1. When Can I Buy Medigap, Medicare. Accessed February 2022.
    https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-other-insurance/when-can-i-buy-medigap
  2. Medigap, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Accessed February 2022.
    https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Health-Plans/Medigap

Jagger Esch

Jagger Esch is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ and the founder, president, and CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and MedicareFAQ.com. Since the inception of his first company in 2012, he has been dedicated to helping those eligible for Medicare by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their Medicare options. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare.

4 thoughts on “Medicare Supplement Plans

  1. we had Transamerica supplement insurance until 1/1/2021 and our agent said that medica would be a better insurance, and it is not. can he get back on the plan he had before?

    1. Hi Michael! Unfortunately, this is very common & beneficiaries end up learning the hard way. You can enroll in a Medigap plan at any time of the year. The only issue is if you have any pre-existing conditions you could be denied. Give us a call and we can help figure out how to get you back on the plan you had or equivalent.

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