Ultimate Guide to Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Plans in 2020
Medicare Supplement plans are often referred to as Medigap plans because they help close the payment gap between what you need to pay and your current coverage provides.
Unlike Medicare Advantage Part C and Part D prescription drug plans, Medicare supplement plans only enhance what is covered in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). These policies do not give added coverage for Part C and Part D policies.
Depending on the supplement plan you choose, you can get additional help paying for your out-of-pocket deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.
The US government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administers the federal Medicare program and contracts with private insurers who provide a variety of plans to meet beneficiaries’ different needs.
You can use this guide to learn more about Medicare supplement plans in your area. If you’re more interested in seeing what’s available to you, go to our Medigap Plan Finder tool and start comparing available policies.
An Overview of Medicare Supplement Plans
There are ten different types of Medigap plans, identified by letters A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N.
Make sure you do not confuse Medicare Part A, B, C, or D (hospital coverage) with Medigap Supplement using the same letters. They are completely different.
Each letter represents different coverage levels and costs. It’s critical to understand that each plan will be the exact same coverage from state to state.
For example, this means Plan B in Utah will be exactly the same as Plan B in South Carolina, Texas, or Illinois. This is true for all lettered types of policies. The only exceptions are in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Some policies will cover things that Original Medicare does not cover, such as coverage for when you travel internationally.
Before you can buy a Medigap policy, you must have Medicare Part A and Part B in force.
Medigap policies only cover one person. If both you and your spouse want Medigap coverage, you’ll both need to buy policies. You can buy a policy from any insurers licensed in your state to sell Medigap insurance.
Medigap policies are also guaranteed renewable, meaning you can’t be turned down for renewal even if you have health issues.
You are not allowed to buy a Medigap policy if you already have a Medicare Advantage Part C policy. You can buy a Medigap policy if you’re dropping Part C coverage and switching back to Original Medicare.
Comparing Medicare Supplement Plans
Because each plan must provide the same benefits, no matter which insurer you choose, one of the ways people often compare policies is by price.
However, don’t assume that the lowest priced policy is the best way to go.
That’s because carriers use different methods to determine to price for their plans. There are three ways this is done:
Community-rated: Everybody pays the same rate each month per location regardless of their age.
Issue-age-rated: You pay a premium based on the age you are when you sign up for the plan. The younger you are, the less you pay. Premiums may increase each year based on inflation, but they will increase as you age.
Attained-age-rated: Your premium is based on your age at the time you enroll, and it increases every year based on your age and inflation.
What about additional health benefits?
Every carrier must offer the same baseline coverage, but some Medigap plans also add a few additional benefits to attract more beneficiaries.
While enhanced benefits are more like to be found with a Medicare Advantage plan, a Medigap plan may offer things like international travel coverage or physical fitness benefits through programs like SilverSneakersSilver & Fit.
The only downside is that there may be a higher premium if you also want to take advantage of these benefits.
Use a Medigap Plan Finder Tool to compare Medicare Supplement plans near you
Our Medigap Plan finder tool lets you see the best Medicare Supplement plans side by side for all Medigap policies offered in your state and county. As each plan letter offers the same exact benefits regardless of your location, all you will need to do is decide on which plan letter best fits your needs.
Medicare also has a finder tool that you can use as well.
Comparing Medicare Supplement plans
Check out our Medicare Supplement plans comparison chart to help you better understand options that work best for you. Keep in mind that costs will vary between plans and zip codes, but this is a good start to help give you an overall understanding.
For more detailed descriptions about what each lettered plan covers, follow the links below to get more information: