Medicare Supplement Plans

Published: Wednesday, July 25 2018
Last Updated: 3 months ago

Supplementing your Medicare coverage is a great way further expand your safety blanket throughout your senior years. While we do our best to stay healthy, life has a way of throwing curveballs, which makes planning for our future nearly impossible. With a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan, you’ll find that you protected from all of life’s little surprises, making sure that you can spend more time enjoying yourself than worrying about your health and finances.

Original Medicare (Parts A and B) is one of the most comprehensive health insurance options available for American seniors. While Medicare may be the best plan you can get, it does still leave you vulnerable. With no cap on out-of-pocket expenses and gaps in coverage that can leave you paying up to 20% of your next medical bill, there’s a reason so many are choosing Medicare Supplement plans. Here we’ll discuss some of the key features of your Supplement options, and help you narrow down which plan letter is right for you.

Features Of Medicare Supplement Plans

Before we dive into comparing your different options, it’s important to understand some of the main reasons Medicare beneficiaries are enrolling in these Supplemental options. Regardless of which Medicare Supplement plan letter you choose, you’ll access to the following added benefits:

  • Additional coverage for out-of-pocket expenses that Original Medicare doesn’t cover.
  • The ability to see any doctor or physician that accepts Medicare coverage.
  • Assuming you pay your monthly premiums, coverage for the rest of your life.
  • Access to specialists without needing a referral from your primary care physician.
  • Health coverage for wherever you choose to travel within the US.
  • Peace of mind knowing that you covered under almost any circumstance.

Plan Letters

There are currently 10 different Medicare Supplement plans that you can choose from, and they are identified by letter rather than number. As of 2019, you’ll be able to choose from the following Medigap letter plans:

Unlike Parts A and B, Medigap plans are sold by private insurance companies. In fact, you may be familiar with many big names like UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, Humana, Cigna, and more. While there may be a variance in the price for each plan, benefits are standardized by Medicare. That means, regardless of which company you purchase your Medicare supplement plan from, you’ll have access to the same benefits and level of coverage.

Medicare Supplement Comparison Chart

Medigap Benefits A B C D F* G K L M N

Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to an additional 365 days after Medicare benefits are exhausted

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Medicare Part B coinsurance or copayment

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 50% 75% Yes Yes**
First 3 pints of blood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 50% 75% Yes Yes

Medicare Part A hospice coinsurance or copayment

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 50% 75% Yes Yes

Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) coinsurance

No No Yes Yes Yes Yes 50% 75% Yes Yes
Medicare Part A deductible No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 50% 75% 50% Yes
Medicare Part B deductible No No Yes No Yes No No No No No

Medicare Part B excess charges

No No No No Yes Yes No No No No

Foreign Travel Emergency (up to plan limits)

No No 80% 80% 80% 80% No No 80% 80%
Out-of-Pocket Limit** None None None None None None $5,240 $2,620 None None

* Plan F is also available in a high-deductible version. With the high-deductible Plan F, you pay for all Medicare-covered costs until you reach your deductible of $2,240 in 2018 before our Medigap plan pays anything.

* Plan N pays 100% of the Medicare Part B coinsurance. There are a few exceptions: Certain office visits may require a copayment of up to $20, and emergency room visits that don't result in your being admitted as an inpatient may require a copayment of up to $50.

*Once you have reached the annual out-of-pocket spending limit and your Medicare Part B deductible, your Medigap plan pays 100% for Medicare-covered costs for the remainder of the calendar year.

The Average Cost

The average cost of Medicare Supplement plans varies by company, who use a few different factors when determining what to charge. The cost of your Medigap plans will be based on the following three factors:

  • Community-Rated - The cost of Medicare Supplement plans are not based on your age. Rather, all beneficiaries will be charged the same price, regardless of how old you are, or if you have any major health conditions. These plans tend to be the cheaper option over time.

  • Issue-Age-Rated - Your premiums will be based on your age at the time of when you purchased your Medigap policy. This is a great option for individuals who are enrolling in coverage as early as possible, or even better for those signing up at 65 years old. Your premiums won’t increase with your age.

  • Attained-Age-Rated - This pricing model often offers the cheapest premiums up initially, but as you get older, your premiums will increase.

Between the different companies and factors, you can see why it’s difficult to determine the baseline average cost for Medicare Supplement plans. However, according to Health Markets, the average premiums for each letter are as follows:

Medigap Plan Average Monthly Premium
A $368
B $449
C $347
D $299
F $326
G $290
K $129
L $236
M $361
N $210

If you’re looking for more accurate Medicare Supplement quotes, FirstQuote Medicare can help. By entering your zip code, and answering a few basic questions, you’ll be able to compare plans and pricing in your area. We also have a team of experienced agents who will help answer any questions you have, and even help you enroll in Medigap coverage as soon as today.

Are Medigap Plans Worth It?

Just by looking at the sticker price, you may find yourself asking if you should even consider getting a Medicare Supplement plan. The answer to that question really depends on your situation, and there’s no right or wrong answer.

Unless you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, there will inevitably be gaps in your healthcare coverage. What does that mean? Well, as we mentioned earlier, your Original Medicare coverage comes with a number of out-of-pocket expenses that you will be liable for, including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. There’s also no out-of-pocket maximum, which may leave you on the hook for thousands in medical bills if you require expensive procedures frequent trips to the doctor. That’s where Medigap plans come into play.

Regardless of the Medicare Supplement plan letter, you choose to go with, you’ll find relief from expensive out-of-pocket expenses. Some plans, like F and G, may even eliminate your out-of-pocket expenses altogether. Although, in order to receive more benefits, you’ll need to pay more up front in monthly premiums.

It’s never a bad idea to have added protection when it comes to your healthcare, especially in your golden years when you're more susceptible to a broader range of health issues. It’s easier to justify signing up for a Medicare Supplement plan if you are someone who has a history of expensive treatments and procedures. However, it’s also important to view the premiums as an investment against any future medical costs you may incur.

All in all, it’s definitely worth it to enroll in Medicare Supplemental coverage, or at least explore your options. You never know what life is going to throw your way, and wouldn’t you rather have the peace of mind knowing you're protected than worrying how you’ll pay out-of-pocket on your next trip to the doctor?