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Top 5 Medicare Supplement Plans – Benefit Overview

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. Examples of out of pocket costs that the top 5 Medicare Supplement plans help cover include:

  • Medicare Part B deductible
  • Doctor’s office visit copayments
  • Medicare Part A coinsurance
  • Nursing facility care

To understand how one of the top 5 Medicare Supplement plans fits into your health insurance coverage, it’s helpful to learn how Medicare Supplement policies work. The Federal Medicare Program consists of four parts:

  • Medicare Part A (hospital costs)
  • Medicare Part B (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 Medicare 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 insurance benefits offered. Congress added Medicare Parts C and D later.

Unlike Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplement insurance doesn’t replace Medicare Part A and Part B; it adds to it. Original Medicare pays 80% of approved medical expenses and hospital costs. The remaining 20% is your responsibility.

Medicare Supplement plans bridge the gap between what Original Medicare pays and your share. That’s why we frequently refer to a Medicare Supplemental insurance plan as a Medigap plan or Medigap insurance.

Top 5 Medicare Supplement Plans Costs, Coverage, and Benefits

To qualify for a Medigap plan, you must be enrolled in Original Medicare. The best time to sign up for Medicare benefits is during your Medicare enrollment period:

  • The three months before you turn 65
  • Your birthday month
  • The three months after you turn 65

To keep your Medicare Supplement plan active, you must stay enrolled in Original Medicare and continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium. You will also have a monthly premium for your Medigap policy.

The best time to join a Medicare Supplement plan is during the Medigap Open Enrollment Period, a six-month period when you meet two conditions:

  • You turn 65
  • You enrolled in Medicare Part B

To find the best Medicare Supplement plan for your needs, you must  compare two things:

  • Benefits
  • Medicare Supplement plan rates

Private insurance companies sell Medicare Supplement insurance policies. Through Dec. 31, 2019, Medicare beneficiaries can choose among 10 Medigap plans (Medigap Plans A through N) for their Medicare Supplement insurance. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, you’ll have eight Medigap options. We think the top 5 Medicare Supplement plans for 2020 are Plans G, N, F, C, and D.

Medigap plans are standardized in 47 states. The exceptions are Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts. Standardized means that Medigap Plan A, for example, offers the same benefits everywhere in the United States.

Although the plan options are the same for each lettered Supplement policy, Medicare Supplement plan rates differ based on the insurance company. Even if the insurance company is the same, Medigap plan rates will vary due to location.

Insurance companies consider other factors when setting Medicare Supplement plan rates:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Tobacco use
  • When you enroll in Medicare

Our insurance agents can research the best Medicare Supplement plan rates in your service area. We can also calculate and compare your future monthly premiums.

Top 5 Medicare Supplement Plans Comparison Chart

The first step in choosing the best Medicare Supplement Plan is to compare plan benefits. All Medicare Supplement insurance plans offer these basic benefits:

  • Medicare Part A coinsurance for hospital stays
  • Hospital costs up to one year after benefits through Original Medicare are used up
  • Medicare Part A hospice care copays
  • Part A hospice care coinsurance
  • Medicare Part B coinsurance or copayments
  • First 3 pints of blood required for a medical procedure

Some Medicare Supplement plans offer additional benefits:

  • Medicare Part A deductible
  • Part B deductible
  • Part B excess charges
  • Part B preventive office visit coinsurance
  • Coinsurance for medical care in a skilled nursing facility
  • Foreign travel emergency care (up to plan limits)

It’s essential to compare insurance plans carefully. Several Medicare Supplement plans pay some Medigap benefits (such as the Part A deductible and skilled nursing facility care) at a reduced rate or require you to pay out of pocket expenses before paying. Plan N has copay requirements. In return for higher cost-sharing amounts, you will pay lower monthly premiums.

None of the 10 Medigap plans include a prescription drug plan. For drug coverage, you must buy a separate Medicare Part D drug plan.

Top 5 Medicare Supplement Plans

Medicare Supplement insurance can be confusing. The best Medicare Supplement insurance plans aren’t necessarily the most comprehensive or the least expensive in terms of Medicare Supplement plan rates. Below is a comparison of what we feel are the top 5 Medicare Supplement plans.

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. The best 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.

Medigap Plan G is a good option for beneficiaries who meet these health conditions:

  • Have a lot of office visits or pre-existing conditions
  • Require frequent emergency care
  • See health care providers not signed up with Medicare

In 2020, Medicare Plan G will become the Medigap policy offering the highest level of benefits. Also coming in 2020 is a high deductible Plan G available to enrollees eligible for Medicare on or after Jan. 1, 2020. Once a beneficiary meets the Plan G deductible for each calendar year, the plan covers benefits at 100%.

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. 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
  • Copays

3. Medicare Supplement Plan F Benefits

Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan F historically has been the highest-selling Medicare Supplement Plan because it covers all of the benefits available. However, starting Jan. 1, 2020, Plan F — as well as high deductible Plan F — won’t be available to new enrollees.

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 beneficiary. Starting in 2020, the federal government requires all beneficiaries to pay the Medicare Part B deductible. Insurance plans that pay the Part B deductible (Plans F and C) will be eliminated.

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 will be unavailable in 2020 to newly eligible beneficiaries. If you are eligible for Medicare before Jan. 1, 2020, you can still buy this Medigap plan.

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 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 to determine the best Medicare Supplement plan for you and compare insurance companies to find the best Medicare Supplement rates. 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.
  • Plan availability varies between service areas.
  • If you have a Medigap plan, you cannot have a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • If foreign travel is important to you, all of our 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%.
  • 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 Silver Sneakers as an added benefit
  • Quick turnaround in claims processing

Our insurance agency 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 which Medicare Supplement plan is best for you, don’t hesitate to call and talk with an agent. 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.

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