How to Compare and Shop for a Medicare Supplement Plan
There are eight standardized Medicare Supplement plans available in 47 states, all sold by private insurers. Each plan offers the same coverage, regardless of the company that sells it.
The 10 plans are given letter names: A, B, D, G, K, L, M, and N. All policies offer the same basic benefits but some offer additional benefits, so you can choose which one meets your needs. If you live in Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Massachusetts, Medigap insurance plans may offer different options from policies sold in the rest of the country.
Medicare Supplement Plans C and F have been phased out for those new to Medicare. If you were eligible for Medicare on or after Jan. 1, 2020, you are not able to purchase either of these plans. But if you had one of these plans already, you can keep it.
* Plans F and G also offer a high-deductible plan in some states. With this option, you must pay for Medicare-covered costs (coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles) up to the deductible amount of $2,340 in 2020 ($2,370 in 2021) before your policy pays anything. (Plans C and F aren't available to people who were newly eligible for Medicare on or after January 1, 2020.)
** For Plans K and L, after you meet your out-of-pocket yearly limit and your yearly Part B deductible, the Medigap plan pays 100% of covered services for the rest of the calendar year.
*** Plan N pays 100% of the Part B coinsurance, except for a copayment of up to $20 for some office visits and up to a $50 copayment for emergency room visits that don't result in inpatient admission.
Medigap Coverage in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin
If you live in Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, you are guaranteed the right to buy a Medigap policy, but the policies are different from other Medigap plans in the United States.
All three states require Medigap plans to offer the same basic benefits.
Basic Medigap Benefits in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin
Medicare Part A coinsurance
Part B coinsurance (generally 20 percent of cost)
Part A hospice coinsurance or copayment
First three pints of blood needed each year
In addition, Wisconsin requires coverage of 40 home health care visits in addition to those covered by Original Medicare. Massachusetts also includes an additional 365 days of hospitalization costs after Medicare coverage ends.
Beyond that, the offerings can vary from state to state.
Massachusetts offers three plans: Core Plan, Supplement 1 Plan, and Supplement 1A Plan. The supplement plans notably include mental health coverage.
Minnesota offers a Basic Plan and Extended Basic Plan. The Extended Basic Plan notably includes coverage for the Part A inpatient hospital deductible and the Medicare Part B deductible which the Basic Plan does not cover. Both do provide 80 percent coverage for emergency care during foreign travel.
Wisconsin offers only a Basic Plan, but there are versions known as “50 percent and 25 Percent Cost-Sharing Plans” similar to standardized Plans K and L. There is also a plan with a high deductible available. The deductible is $2,340 per year in 2022.
What to Consider When Comparing Medigap Plans
Coverage for blood transfusions
Coverage for health care during foreign travel
Coverage for hospital stays beyond the limit in Medicare Part A
Hospice care coinsurance or copayment coverage
Amount of coinsurance or copayment the plan covers
How much of your Medicare Part A deductible is covered
How much of your Medicare Part B deductible is covered
How much of your Medicare Part B excess charge is covered
Skilled nursing care coinsurance coverage
The plan’s out-of-pocket limit
How does this fit with other Medicare coverage?
Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans work alongside your Original Medicare plan to help fill coverage gaps, such as traveling abroad and deductibles. Because it is used with your federal Medicare coverage, it is also accepted at any hospital that accepts Original Medicare.
Medicare Supplement plans offer the advantage of flexibility; unlike some other senior healthcare options, you have the freedom to enroll in or change your Medicare Supplement policy at any time throughout the year. And because Medicare Supplement policies are guaranteed renewable, you cannot lose coverage if you develop a health condition or concern-meaning you're protected year over year, no matter what.
Together, Part A and B cover about 80% of the typical healthcare costs seniors face-leaving a few significant gaps in coverage. Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans are supplemental policies designed to help extend coverage, lessen costs, and ultimately give beneficiaries peace of mind at all times.