What Are The Best Medicare Supplement Plans?
When shopping and comparing Medicare supplement plans, the most important thing to understand is the amount of coverage you need. The reason for this is that supplemental Medicare insurance (aka, Medigap) is standardized. That means that a Medicare Plan G sold by AARP, for instance, has exactly the same benefits as Medicare Plan G from Human (or any other insurer that sell Medigap plans). Once you understand this simple fact, you can focus your Medigap plan review on coverage and price.
The plan with the most extensive coverage is Medicare Supplement Plan F. However, this plan is no longer available to people turning age 65 after 1 January 2020.
Next in line is Medicare Supplement Plan G. It covers everything except your Medicare Part B annual deductible.
The third most popular policy is Medicare Supplement Plan N. People like it because it offers good coverage at an affordable price.
Medicare Supplement Coverage
Now that you know coverage is king, not the company selling the insurance policy, let’s take a look at what’s not covered by your Original Medicare benefits. It comes down to 9 core costs:
- Medicare Part A Coinsurance & Hospital Costs
- Medicare Part A Skilled Nursing Facility Coinsurance
- Medicare Part A Deductible
- Medicare Part A Hospice Care Coinsurance or Copayment
- Medicare Part B Deductible (annual)
- Medicare Part B Coinsurance or Copayment
- Medicare Part B Excess Charges
- Blood (first 3 pints)
- Foreign Travel Emergency
These are the gaps in Medicare that you pay out-of-pocket or buy additional coverage to help pay. Now that you know which costs you’re on the hook for, we can use the following Medicare Supplements Comparison Chart to see what each of the 10 plans covers side-by-side.
You’ll notice that all plans cover some or all of Part A and B coinsurance, blood, and hospice coinsurance. These are generally considered the most costly expenses for Medicare beneficiaries. So, what’s left to decide is how much additional coverage do you need?
To answer the question about how much coverage you need, take a good, hard look at your health status, your financial status, and how much risk you’re willing to take. It’s difficult to be completely objective, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Call 1-855-266-4865 to speak with an advisor. It’s free and completely confidential.
Who Has the Best Medicare Supplement Plans?
As discussed above, Medigap plans are standardized into 10 lettered plans (three states, including Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, have their own standards). However, insurance carriers are no required to carry all plans. Plana A, F, and G are required plans, but all others optional. Also, even though carriers can’t change the coverage offered by a plan, they are free to establish their monthly premiums. As a result, it’s not really possible to say which company has the best supplement.
The right question to be asking is which company has the lowest rates and the best history of low rate increases? All Medigap policy premiums increase over time. So it’s very important to understand when your policy you choose will have rate increases. Your insurance agent can get this information for you. If you don’t have an agent, call 1-855-266-4865 to speak with a HealthPlanOne agent. Ask for your free rate analysis, including rate increase history, on the top 20 carriers serving your area.
Medicare Supplement vs. Medicare Advantage: Which is Best?
As you may know, Medicare gives you two ways to receive your hospital and medical coverage. The first way is with Original Medicare, which includes your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) benefits. The second way is through a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan. These plans provide your hospital and medical coverage, but the benefits are provided and administered through a private insurance company, not the government.
About one-third of all Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage. And, about one-third of Medicare beneficiaries have a Medigap plan supplementing their Original Medicare benefits. The remaining group of people additional coverage benefits through Medicaid, military benefits, employer benefits, or they simply pay out-of-pocket.
To decide which coverage is best for you, ask yourself these simple questions:
- Do you travel?
- Do you want to choose your own healthcare providers?
- Do you want predictable healthcare costs?
If you answered ‘yes’ to one or all of these questions, then Medicare supplement insurance is best for you. Here’s why.
Unlike Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans do not go where ever you go in the United States. They are required to cover you if you have an emergency, but they won’t cover things like urgent care when you’re away from home. Original Medicare and Medicare supplements do.
Plus, with nearly all Medicare Advantage plans, you must use the plan’s network of healthcare providers. If your doctor or specialist isn’t in the plan’s network, you’ll have to choose a new doctor. This isn’t so bad if you only have to do it once, but most seniors change plans every few years in order to take advantage of better rates.
Also, Medicare Advantage plans may have low monthly premiums, but your costs when you get sick or have an emergency are highly unpredictable. The reason for this is because the costs with these plans occur when you use services, whereas with a Medigap plan you pay most of your costs in advance.
How Can I Find the Best Medicare Supplement Insurance For Me?
The best Medicare supplement insurance plan for you is the plan with the level of coverage you need at a price you can afford. To find a plan that will work for your health and financial situation, first consider the benefits each plan covers. Then match the coverage you need with the plans that offer that coverage.
Some people make the mistake of buying too much insurance simply because they can afford it or because they want first dollar coverage. Other people don’t buy enough coverage because they think it’s too expensive. Savvy seniors look at their health status and match it with the coverage they are most likely to need.
Let’s look at a couple of examples.
Bill is a healthy man turning age 65 in a few months. He doesn’t have any chronic health conditions or a family history of health issues later in life. He has saved money all of his life and has a good nest egg. Bill can certainly afford to buy the best, but he realized he’d be wasting money if he did. So, Bill is seriously considering a Plan N policy. He likes Medicare Plan N because it will let him share some of the costs, like a $20 copay when he sees his doctor, but the monthly premium is much lower than more comprehensive coverage, like Medicare Plan G.
Marie is turning age 65 and has type 2 diabetes, which she manages through medication. She also has a pacemaker implant due to a congenital heart condition. She wasn’t a good saver while she worked, but she does have a small union pension to supplement her Social Security income when she retires. She considered a Medicare Advantage plan, because of the low monthly premiums, but she wants to stay with her specialists because they know her history. Plus, Marie figured out that her monthly doctor copays with an Advantage plan, plus her past history of needing an ambulance to get to the E.R. would kill her budget. So, Marie makes the smart move and chooses Medigap Plan G. It covers all of her Medicare-approved costs after she pays the Part B deductible.
In both of these cases, Bill and Marie save money. Bill saves money by not buy too much insurance. Marie saves money because she buys as much insurance as she can to cover her expensive healthcare costs.
Now it’s your turn to be smart just like Bill and Marie. Figure out the amount of insurance you need, then go shop for the best rate. Need help? Call 1-855-266-4865 and chat with a HealthPlan One agent. While you have them on the line, ask for a free quote. It’s absolutely free and there’s no obligation on your part.
Frequently Asked Questions About Medicare Supplements
Top 10 Best Medicare Supplement Insurance Companies:
- Aetna Medicare Supplements
- Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplements
- Cigna Medicare Supplements
- Manhattan Life Medicare Supplements
- Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Supplements
- Bankers Fidelity Medicare Supplements
- Anthem Medicare Supplements
Our complete list is available here.
For some, the best means getting the most coverage. Medigap Plan F offers the most coverage possible. It covers ALL the cost gaps in Original Medicare. But, many of us have a fixed budget. At the same time, we may be healthy or have a chronic condition that’s easily managed through medications and does not require a specialist. If this is your situation, a Plan F or G policy might be too expensive or simply wasteful. In this case, a Medigap Plan N policy might be a better option. Read What is the Best Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan to learn more.
According to MedicareWire research, the average Medicare Supplement premium in 2020 was just over $158 per month. However, cost varies widely by area, coverage, and age. For more information, read What is the Average Cost of Supplemental Insurance for Medicare?.
Medicare Supplement Plan F and Plan G are nearly identical. Technically, Plan F is better because it offers first-dollar coverage. However, the one cost that Plan G does not cover, the Part B deductible, is often less than the annualized premium difference between the two plans. As a result, Plan G holders generally save a little money. Read Medicare Plan F vs Plan G to learn more.