A Medicare Supplement plan is a way for Medicare beneficiaries to pay for medical expenses that Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B) doesn’t cover. Medicare Supplement plans, also known as Medigap, help beneficiaries cover out-of-pocket costs, including:
- Medicare Part B deductible
- Doctor’s office visit copayments
- Medicare Part A coinsurance
- Skilled nursing facility care
To understand how one of the top 5 Medicare Supplement plans fits into your health insurance coverage for 2022, it’s helpful to learn how Medicare Supplement policies work. Medicare coverage consists of four parts:
- Medicare Part A (inpatient hospital costs and hospice care)
- Medicare Part B (outpatient care and medical services, such as doctor’s office visits)
- Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage plans, an alternative way to get your Part A and Part B with additional benefits)
- Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage)
Original Medicare refers to Medicare Part A and Part B. When the program first started, Parts A and B were the only Medicare health insurance benefits offered. Congress added Medicare Parts C and D later. However, Parts C and D are sold by private insurers.
Unlike Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplement insurance doesn’t replace Medicare Part A and Part B. It partners with it to defray out-of-pocket costs. Original Medicare pays 80 percent of approved medical expenses and hospital costs. The remaining 20 percent is your responsibility.
Medicare Supplement plans bridge the gap between what Original Medicare pays and your share that’s left. That’s why we frequently refer to a Medicare Supplemental insurance plan as a Medigap plan or Medigap insurance coverage.
1. Medicare Supplement Plan G Benefits
Medigap Plan G tops our list of the top 5 Medicare Supplement plans. We like Medicare Plan G because it offers the second-highest level of benefits but at a lower monthly premium.
Medicare Supplement rates for Plan G range between $240 and $480 less each year in comparison to Plan F, the most comprehensive Supplement insurance plan on the market. While Plan F has eligibility restrictions based on the date you could purchase Medicare, Plan G doesn’t.
Once a beneficiary meets the Plan G deductible for each calendar year, the plan covers benefits at 100 percent.
Medigap Plan G is a good option for beneficiaries who:
- Have a lot of office visits or pre-existing conditions
- Require frequent emergency care
- See health care providers not signed up with Medicare
- Became eligible for Medicare on or after Jan. 1, 2020.
Benefits not included in Medigap Plan G or high deductible Plan G:
- Part B deductible
2. Medicare Supplement Plan N Benefits
Medigap Plan N ranks second among our top 5 Medicare Supplement plans for 2022. Plan N has lower premiums because the copays required for some doctor’s office visits ($20) and emergency room ($50) help minimize increases in Medigap plan rates.
Benefits not covered under Plan N:
- Part B deductible
- Medicare Part B excess charges. These are charges above what the federal government covers under Part B if the provider has not agreed to accept what Medicare pays.
3. Medicare Supplement Plan F Benefits
Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan F historically has been the highest-selling Medicare Supplement Plan because it covers a wide range of benefits. However, due to federal Medicare guidelines, Plan F is only available to those who became eligible for Medicare on or before Dec. 31, 2019.
Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan F is what’s called first-dollar coverage. First-dollar coverage means that the Medicare Supplement plan pays everything with no health care cost to the enrollee. For those on Plan F, this includes the Part B deductible.
Besides those eligible for Plans C and F, the federal government now requires all beneficiaries to pay the Medicare Part B deductible.
Policyholders who already have Medicare Supplement Plan F or high-deductible Plan F can keep their policy. Both Medigap plans will still be available for beneficiaries who qualified for Medicare before Jan. 1, 2020
4. Medicare Supplement Plan C Benefits
Medicare Plan C is a fairly comprehensive Medicare Supplement plan. Because it covers everything except for Part B excess charges, it’s an extremely popular Medigap option in the states that don’t allow excess charges:
Like Medicare Supplement insurance Plan F, Medigap Plan Plan C is a first-dollar Medicare Supplement plan that is only available to those who became eligible for Medicare on or before Dec. 31, 2019. Benefits not covered under Plan C:
- Part B excess charges
5. Medicare Supplement Plan D Benefits
Medicare Supplement Plan D rounds out our top 5 Medicare Supplement plans. For beneficiaries who became eligible for Medicare in 2020, Medicare Plan D is a good replacement for Medigap Plan C because it covers the same benefits.
Benefits not covered under Plan D:
- Part B deductible
- Medicare Part B excess charges
Things to Remember about the Top 5 Medicare Supplement Plans
Remember, you must compare plans and insurance companies to determine the best Medicare Supplement plan and rates for you. Here are other things to keep in mind about Medicare Supplement plans:
- They are automatically renewable as long as you pay your Medicare Part B premium.
- The best time to apply is during the open enrollment period so you can get the best price. This automatically starts the first month you have Medicare Part B and you’re 65 or older.
- Plan availability varies between service areas. In Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, Medigap policies are standardized in a different way.
- You will need to purchase a separate policy for a prescription drug plan.
- If you have a Medigap plan, you cannot have a Medicare Advantage plan.
- If foreign travel is important to you, all top 5 Medicare Supplement plans cover emergency care abroad.
- Our top five picks also cover the Medicare Part A deductible and Part B coinsurance at 100 percent.
- The best Medicare plan rates vary based on location, even if it’s the same insurance company.
The best Medicare Supplement insurance companies have several features in common:
- History of excellent customer service
- Solid financial footing
- Some companies offer perks like Silver Sneakers
- Quick turnaround in claims processing
Policy Guide connects with an extensive network of health insurance providers, but we prefer to work with the best-rated carriers. That’s why we favor the following health insurance companies:
If you’d like help finding what each company offers, don’t hesitate to call and talk with an agent about plan options.
Our insurance agents will help you evaluate your health care needs, compare policies, and find the best Medicare health plan rates in your area. We can also forecast future monthly premiums to protect your financial stability as you age.