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Best Medicare Supplement Plans for 2020

For seniors seeking help with hospital costs and other medical expenses, some of the best Medicare Supplement plans provide additional security against the high cost of health care. More than 13 million Medicare beneficiaries have Medicare Supplement insurance to help with their out of pocket costs.

At first glance, Medicare Supplement insurance seems confusing. The first step in learning about Medicare Supplement plans for 2020 is understanding the Federal Medicare Program.

The Federal Medicare Program includes four parts. Each part provides coverage for different health care needs:

  • Medicare Part A — hospital services
  • Medicare Part B — medical services
  • Medicare Part C — a different way to get Part A and Part B benefits (Medicare Advantage plan)
  • Medicare Part D — outpatient prescription drug plan

Your Medicare enrollment period for Parts A, B, C, and D is a seven-month period that starts three months before you turn 65. It includes your birthday month, and it ends three months after you turn 65. In addition to your initial Medicare enrollment period, you have two more opportunities to sign up for Medicare:

  • Special enrollment period: specific circumstances apply
  • General enrollment period: Jan. 1 through Mar. 31 of each year

If you do not join Medicare during your initial enrollment period, you might have to pay a penalty unless you qualify for special enrollment. If you would like to learn more about the best time to enroll in Medicare, don’t hesitate to phone one of our insurance agents.

How 2020 Medicare Supplement Plans Complement Your Medicare Benefits

The federal government approves a certain amount for each service provided under Medicare Part A and Part B. It pays 80% of that approved amount to the health care provider. The 20% left — called coinsurance — is your responsibility to pay.

Medicare also requires you to pay deductibles and some copayments for office visits and emergency care. The Medicare Part A deductible is based on each benefit period. (A benefit period starts the day you become an inpatient in a hospital or skilled nursing facility and ends when you have been discharged for 60 days.) The Medicare Part B deductible is based on a calendar year.

This is where Medicare Supplement insurance comes in. Medicare Supplement plans pick up the gaps in coverage — deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance — that your Medicare benefits don’t cover. Because they provide “gap coverage,” Medicare Supplement plans earned the name Medigap plans.

Best Medicare Supplement Plans Costs, Coverage, and Benefits in 2020

Nationally, about 41% of seniors have a Medigap plan to supplement their Medicare Part A and Part B benefits. Through Dec. 31, 2019, beneficiaries have 10 Medigap plans to choose from for supplemental health insurance. Due to changes in federal law, seniors eligible for Medicare benefits after Jan. 1, 2020, will choose from eight Medicare Supplement insurance plans. Here’s what you need to understand about Medigap plans:

  • A letter designates each Medigap policy: Plans A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, N.
  • They are standardized in 47 states. This means each plan letter offers the same benefits regardless of which insurance company sells the policy. The exceptions are Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Massachusetts.
  • Not all states offer all 10 Medicare Supplement insurance plans.
  • No Medigap plan includes drug coverage. To get help with prescription medical expenses, you have to buy a separate Medicare Part D drug plan.
  • You must keep paying your Medicare Part B premium to keep your Medigap plan in force.

Medigap Plan C, Medigap Plan F, and high-deductible Plan F will no longer be available to seniors who become eligible for Medicare benefits on or after Jan. 1, 2020. However, beneficiaries who qualify before Jan. 1, 2020, can still buy Plans C, F, and high-deductible F. If you are already enrolled in one of these three Medigap plans on Jan. 1, 2020, you will be grandfathered in, and your supplement policy will stay in effect.

How Original Medicare Works with a Medigap Plan

Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B make up Original Medicare. Original Medicare is often called fee-for-service Medicare or traditional Medicare. About 68% of beneficiaries have Medicare Part A and Part B.

About 32% of beneficiaries opt to get their Part A and Part B coverage through Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage. Federal law requires Medicare Advantage plans to offer the same basic benefits that Original Medicare offers. Medicare Advantage plans typically have network restrictions similar to HMOs and PPOs.

When you are first eligible for Medicare benefits, you need to compare carefully the plan options under Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage because you must choose which way you want to receive your Medicare benefits. If you join Original Medicare, you cannot join a Medicare Advantage Plan. Medicare Supplement insurance does not work with Medicare Advantage.

We can help you compare the advantages and disadvantages of Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Just give us a call.

Enrollment in Medicare Supplement Plans

Regardless of which Medigap plan you choose, the best time to join is during your Medigap open enrollment period. Open enrollment begins the date your Medicare Part B takes effect and ends six months later. Your open enrollment period is often called your guaranteed-issue period because you have guaranteed rights:

  • Coverage regardless of health status
  • No underwriting required
  • No higher monthly premiums because of pre-existing health conditions

Although you can apply for Medicare Supplement plans at other times, you are not guaranteed coverage. You might have to undergo underwriting, and the insurance company might deny your application entirely.

Because the Medigap plan you join during your initial enrollment period is typically the health insurance plan you will have forever, you need to compare plan options and plan limits. Finding the best Medicare Supplement plan depends on several things:

  • Your health condition
  • Your financial health
  • Benefits included under each Medicare plan
  • Medicare Supplement plan rates

Best Medicare Supplement Plan Rates for 2020

Although Medicare Supplement Plan benefits are standard, Medicare Supplement plan rates differ. Private insurance companies approved by Medicare sell Medigap insurance policies. Each insurance company calculates Medicare plan rates differently, so a thorough comparison of health insurance carriers is in order to find the best Medigap plan rates.

Medicare Plan rates fluctuate depending on a range of factors:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Pricing method

Insurance carriers use one of three pricing methods to calculate Medicare plan rates:

  • Attained-age rated — your current age
  • Issue-age-rated — your age when you buy the Medigap plan
  • Community-rated — age does not play a role

The pricing method matters because it affects your monthly premiums. With companies using the attained-age calculation, your premium will always increase as you grow older. Although attained age might offer a lower premium when you first buy your Medicare Supplement plan, in a few years, the premium could escalate and become pricey.

The best Medicare Supplement plan rates might become more challenging to evaluate in 2020. With Medicare Supplement Plan C, Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan F, and high-deductible F no longer being open to new enrollees, monthly premiums for those insurance plans might increase due to a smaller pool of policyholders.

At the same time, Medigap plan rates for some of the other supplement insurance plans might become more affordable because of a larger enrollee group. Our licensed agents can assist you in calculating current monthly premiums as well as future premiums.

Best Medicare Supplement Insurance Companies

Many private insurance companies offer Medigap plans, and we have established relationships with virtually all of them. However, our insurance agency has found that the following insurance companies are the best rated because they consistently provide the best financial stability, the best service, and the best Medigap plan rates:

See our list on the top 10 Best Medicare Supplement Companies.

Medicare Supplement Plans Comparison Chart

best medicare supplement plans comparison chart

To identify the best Medicare Supplement plan for you, it is essential that you carefully compare the options available. Each Medigap policy features a different benefit package, and your Medicare plan rates will vary depending on the benefits included in the policy. As you compare plans, consider the following:

  • How much you can handle in monthly premiums, now and in the future
  • Your health status and any existing medical conditions
  • The trade-off between a lower premium and a higher cost-share
  • Your tolerance for risk
  • How often you have doctor’s office visits

As you compare your Medigap insurance options, you will learn which Medicare Supplement plans cover the areas most significant to you. All Medicare Supplement plans cover the following services:

  • Medicare Part A coinsurance
  • Hospital costs up to 365 days after you exhaust your benefits through Original Medicare
  • Part A hospice care coinsurance or copays
  • Medicare Part B coinsurance or copays
  • First 3 pints of blood needed for a medical procedure

In addition to the basic services listed above, some Medicare Supplement plans offer additional benefits:

  • Medicare Part A deductible
  • Part B deductible
  • Part B preventive office visit coinsurance
  • Part B excess charges
  • Coinsurance for skilled nursing facility care
  • Foreign travel emergency care

The following side-by-side comparison of the 10 standardized Medicare Supplement plans makes evaluating the Medigap plans more straightforward. You can also jump to our Medicare Supplement plans Comparison Chart page.

Medicare Supplement Plan A Benefits

All Medicare Supplement insurance companies that provide Medigap plans are required to sell Medicare Supplement Plan A. Medigap Plan A offers the most basic benefits among the Medicare Supplement plans. Even though it is the most basic supplement policy available, Plan A does cover the 20% Medicare Part A coinsurance, which could potentially add up to a considerable amount. What Medigap Plan A does not cover:

  • Coinsurance for skilled nursing facility care
  • Part A deductible
  • Part B deductible
  • Part B excess charges
  • Foreign travel emergencies

Jump to the full page on Medicare Supplement plan A.

Medicare Supplement Plan B Benefits

Medicare Plan B is a step above Plan A, adding coverage for your Part A deductible. What Medigap Plan B does not cover:

  • Coinsurance for nursing facility care
  • Part B deductible
  • Part B excess charges
  • Foreign travel emergencies

Jump to the full page on Medicare Supplement plan B.

Medicare Supplement Plan C Benefits

Medicare Supplement Plan C provides broad coverage, which is why seniors consider it one of the more attractive Medicare Supplement plans. What Plan C does not cover:

  • Part B excess charges

Jump to the full page on Medicare Supplement plan C.

Medicare Supplement Plan D Benefits

Nationally, 43% of insurance companies selling Medicare Supplement plans offer Medicare Plan D. What Plan B does not cover:

  • Part B deductible
  • Part B excess charges

Jump to the full page on Medicare Supplement plan D.

Medicare Supplement Plan F Benefits

With around 55% of Medigap policyholders choosing it for their supplemental health insurance, Medicare Supplement insurance Plan F is the most popular among the Medicare Supplement plans available. It is also the most comprehensive, paying 100% of covered services.

Jump to the full page on Medicare Supplement plan F.

Medicare Supplement Plan G Benefits

Medigap Plan G is one of the fastest-growing options among Medigap policies. Historically, it has provided one of the best Medicare Supplement plan rates in return for fairly comprehensive coverage. After Jan. 1, 2020, it will provide the most comprehensive benefits package. What Medicare Plan G does not cover:

  • Medicare Part B deductible

Jump to the full page on Medicare Supplement plan G.

Medicare Supplement Plan K Benefits

Medigap Plan K has the highest cost-sharing among the Medicare Supplement plans. In 2019, Plan K has a $4,960 out-of-pocket limit you must meet before it pays any benefits. After you meet your out-of-pocket limit, Plan K pays 50% on the following services:

  • Part B coinsurance and doctor’s office visits copays
  • First 3 pints of blood
  • Part A hospice care coinsurance and copays
  • Skilled nursing care coinsurance
  • Part A deductible

What Medicare Supplement Plan K does not cover at all:

  • Part B deductible
  • Part B excess charges
  • Foreign travel emergencies

Jump to the full page on Medicare Supplement plan K.

Medicare Supplement Plan L Benefits

Medicare Plan L is another Medicare Supplement plan that features a significant amount of cost-sharing by the policyholder. Plan L has a $2,480 out-of-pocket limit you must meet before it pays any benefits. After you meet your out-of-pocket limit, Plan L pays 75% on the following services:

  • Part B coinsurance and copays
  • First 3 pints of blood
  • Coinsurance and copays for hospice care
  • Coinsurance for care in a skilled nursing facility
  • Part A deductible

What Plan L does not cover at all:

  • Part B deductible
  • Part B excess charges
  • Foreign travel emergencies

Jump to the full page on Medicare Supplement plan L.

Medicare Supplement Plan M Benefits

Medicare Plan M is considered “middle-of-the-road” coverage. It includes more benefits in comparison to Plans A and B but is not as extensive as Medicare Supplement Plan F, Medigap Plan G, or Medicare Supplement Plan C. What Plan M does not cover:

  • 50% of the Part A deductible
  • Part B deductible
  • Part B excess charges

Jump to the full page on Medicare Supplement plan M.

Medicare Supplement Plan N Benefits

Medicare Plan N continues to see growth as a supplemental health insurance policy. It typically offers lower premiums in return for a modest amount of cost-sharing. What it does not cover:

  • Medicare Part B deductible
  • Medicare Part B excess charges
  • Copayments for some doctor’s office visits and emergency room services

Jump to the full page on Medicare Supplement plan N.

Medicare Supplement High Deductible Plan F Benefits

Like regular Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan F, high-deductible Medicare Supplement Plan F pays for all Medicare Part A and Part B covered services. Beginning in 2020, newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries will not have access to high-deductible Plan F.

Jump to the full page on High Deductible Medicare Supplement plan F.

Medicare Supplement High Deductible Plan G Benefits

After Jan. 1, 2020, seniors can also choose a high-deductible version of Medigap Plan G. This high-deductible Medigap plan covers everything except for your Medicare Part B deductible. However, you have to meet a high deductible before your Medicare Plan G policy pays for covered services. The federal government has not yet determined the amount of the deductible.

Medicare Supplement health insurance coverage offers freedom and flexibility for beneficiaries. Medicare Supplement plans pay for health care anywhere in the country as long as the provider who delivers the medical services is signed up with Medicare. Once you have found the best Medicare Supplement plan for you, you have guaranteed coverage for life as long as you pay your Medigap monthly premium and your Medicare Part B premium.

If you would like us to help you compare plans, please feel free to call and talk with one of our insurance agents. We can streamline the process of identifying which Medicare Supplement plan is best for you.

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