While Medicare provides much of the coverage an individual will need after the age of 65, it does not cover all expenses or cover all services. Many of these “gaps” in coverage can be met by a Medicare Insurance Supplement plan, also known as “Medigap” coverage.  For Medicare recipients who would like to limit their out-of-pocket expenses from regular visits to the doctor or the hospital, a Medigap plan can make a lot of sense.

Medicare Supplement Insurance plans cover the coinsurance, copayment, and deductibles that are regular, out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare patients. In addition, many of the Medigap plans also offer coverage for medical expenses incurred while traveling abroad. The plans are sold through private insurers directly, not by the government, but the features of the various Medigap plans are regulated by federal law. With the exception of three states (Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin), shoppers will be able to compare the features of the various plans of one insurer directly with the plan of another insurer.  

There is a six-month period of open enrollment beginning the month an applicant turns 65.  During this period, an applicant may shop for the supplemental plans available in their state and a pre-existing condition does not disqualify enrollment. Individuals also have enrollment opportunities when their group or employer plan ends and one first signs up for Part B. Enrolling for Medigap outside of the open-enrollment period can result in higher premiums and the possibility of being denied supplemental coverage. Costs for a plan will vary and rely on what method the insurer uses to age-rate the plans, whether the applicant is a smoker, and where the individual lives.

There are many factors that play a part in choosing the most appropriate Medigap plan. Your income level, your current health, and your current coverage all play a part in determining the most suitable plan. As with any insurance policy, one must weigh the benefits of the more comprehensive Medigap policies with their higher premiums. We cannot stress enough the importance of speaking to a qualified insurance broker to find the Medicare Supplement Insurance plan that is most appropriate for your budget and your circumstances.


Top 10 Companies

#1
Our Partner
9.7 / 10
  • Choose HealthNetwork or one of its trusted partners as your carrier 
  • HealthNetwork is trusted by more than 18 million Americans
  • Shop from over 7,000 Medicare Advantage plans nationwide
  • Comparison shop for Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap)
  • Enjoy 24/7 support with a real human being
#2
9.7 / 10
  • 9.4 Trustpilot rating
  • Unbiased Medicare experts
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  • Excellent rates for each Medigap plan
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#3
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9.0 / 10
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How We Compare Medicare Supplement Insurance

Coverage

25%

A Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy helps pay for some of the health care costs that Original Medicare does not cover like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Every Medigap policy must follow federal and state laws designed to protect customers, and it must be clearly identified as “Medicare Supplement Insurance.” Medigap insurance companies sell standardized Medigap policies identified by letters A through N. Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin provide their own policy for residents. The remaining 47 states in the United States rely on 10 standard plans that accommodate all types of health, lifestyle, and budget demands.

Keep in mind that because Medigap benefits are standardized, the cost is the only difference between policies. Insurance companies that sell Medigap policies do not have to offer every Medigap plan. However, they must offer Plan A if they offer any Medigap policy. If they offer any plan in addition to Plan A, they must also offer Plan C or Plan F. Each insurance company decides which Medigap plan it wants to sell, although state laws might affect which ones they offer. No matter which insurance company offers a particular plan, all plans with the same letter cover the same benefits. Some companies offer additional benefits, so we suggest that applicants look for providers that meet their specific needs. Likewise, we recommend that customers consider the company’s network size.


Pricing

30%

Cost is the only difference between Medigap policies with the same letter sold by different insurance companies. The cost of a Medicare Supplement plan will vary depending on the type of plan and the insurance company’s pricing method. It is important to ask what age-rating method an insurance company uses to price its policies, as the way they set the price affects how the plan will cost now and in the future.

Medigap policies can be age-rated in three ways:

Community-rated: premium is not based on applicant’s age, but a base price based on all the participants in the area.

Issue-age-rated: premiums are lower for people who buy at a younger age and raised only periodically through statewide adjustments.

Age-attained-rated: premiums are lowest for younger buyers and increase based on the individual’s age.

Once a Medigap plan is purchased, the insurance company must keep renewing it. The company cannot change what the policy covers and can’t cancel it unless the member stops paying the premium. A company can increase the premium and should notify the plan member in advance of any increases. Other factors will affect the price of a plan, such as where one lives, and whether one is applying during or outside the open-enrollment period. We recommend customers set their budget, compare the same type of Medigap policy, then look for a company that is upfront about their premiums before committing to a plan.


Customer Experience

25%

When selecting a Medicare Supplement Insurance provider, consider what their customer service offers. Coverage might be difficult to understand and varies depending on the plan, so look for a company that caters to one’s needs, such as a helpful customer service representative on the phone, online or chat. Also, remember that not every plan is available in every location, so it’s important to research plan options for one’s particular state and zip code. We recommend that applicants visit Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE to have specific questions answered regarding Medicare or Medigap insurance.


Financial Strength

20%

It is important to know a company’s financial rating because it predicts the company’s ability to meet their financial obligations and provides testimony of their sound business policies. Independent agencies like Moody’s and A.M. Best rate the financial strength of insurance companies. These companies have developed a rating system that uses a letter grade to describe an insurer’s financial condition. The ratings generally range from “excellent” or “superior” to “poor” or “distressed”.


What's important to know about Medicare Supplement Insurance?


What is Medicare Supplement Insurance?

Medicare Supplement Insurance, also known as "Medigap," is additional coverage for existing Medicare recipients, provided by private insurers. Available in various plans, the supplemental insurance pays for "gaps" not covered in original Medicare, such as copayments, coinsurance, and coverage when traveling in foreign countries.

What does Medicare supplement insurance cover?

Medicare Supplement Insurance provides coverage for some of the expenses that Medicare does not provide, such as the out-of-pocket copayments and coinsurance for doctor visits and hospice care, the cost of receiving medical attention while traveling abroad, and the costs of receiving blood. Medicare supplement insurance does not provide coverage for long-term care, private home caregivers, dental and vision exams, hearing aids, or eyeglasses. These must all be purchased separately.

How much does Medicare Supplement Insurance cost?

Consumers can expect to pay, on average, around $100-400 per month for Medicare supplement insurance, depending on their chosen plan. It's important to remember that Medicare supplement insurance is issued by private insurers, not Medicare itself. The premiums are paid by the individual recipient to the insurance company, who sets the price based on the amount of benefits each supplement plan offers and how they age rate the policy.

What do I need to do to apply for Medicare Supplement Insurance?

In order to apply for Medicare supplement insurance, beneficiaries must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B. If they are not currently covered by a group or employer plan, the open window for Medigap enrollment is the six-month period beginning the month they turn 65. In addition, there is a 63-day window for Medigap enrollment after a group or employer policy ends. Outside of the open enrollment period, insurers may choose to not offer a supplement insurance policy to individuals or offer plans at a higher rate.

Can I be turned down for Medicare supplemental insurance?

Private insurers can turn down applicants for Medicare Supplemental Insurance outside of the open-enrollment period. Applicants for Medigap coverage outside of open-enrollment are subject to a medical questionnaire that helps determine eligibility and rate, and they may be declined coverage.

Can I get Medicare Supplemental Insurance if I have a Medicare Advantage Plan?

Beneficiaries cannot simultaneously hold a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) and a Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan. Medicare Advantage plans cover many of the same "gaps" that supplemental insurance provides, therefore one plan cannot be used to cover the costs of the other.

Do Medicare Supplement plans differ for each state?

The ten Medicare supplement plans are standardized by federal law across the country, with exceptions in three states. For shoppers of supplemental plans, this means that the benefits of each of the plans are the same -- for instance, Plan C in Nevada is the same as Plan C in New Hampshire -- but the premiums will be different because they come from different companies in different regions of the country. However, residents of Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have different eligibility requirements and supplemental plans.

Are pre-existing conditions covered by Medigap plans?

Insurers cannot disqualify an applicant with a pre-existing condition, if he or she signs up for medicare supplement insurance during the open-enrollment period. Insurers, though, can postpone supplemental coverage for the first six months of the policy with what is called the "pre-existing condition waiting period."
Should supplement insurance lapse or the applicant applies for coverage outside the open-enrollment period, insurers may disqualify applicants with pre-existing conditions.

When is the best time to enroll in a Medigap policy?

The best time to enroll is during Medigap's open-enrollment period, which is during the six months after one turns 65. After enrolling in Medicare Part A & Part B, an applicant can enroll during those six months to get the best rates and not be disqualified for supplemental coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Open-enrollment is also extended for a period of 63 days after an individual loses coverage from a group or employer health insurance, or if your insurance policy company goes out of the supplemental insurance business.

What factors do insurance companies use to set my Medigap plan premium?

Medigap plan premiums are set based on a variety of factors, including the insurer's age-rating method, the applicant's gender, their geographical location, and whether or not they are a smoker. If a consumer applies for Medicare supplement insurance outside of the open enrollment period, their medical history will also influence their rate.
Remember, since all Medigap plans are regulated by both federal and state laws, they do not differ in terms of the standard benefits they offer, so this does not affect the overall plan cost.

Can I use my Medigap coverage when I travel?

Some Medigap plans cover beneficiaries for health situations during travel, though not all. Should you need medical attention while traveling abroad, six of the ten Medicare supplemental plans offer coverage for those expenses (up to the plan's limits). If you are planning to regularly spend time traveling abroad after the age of 65, consider Medigap plans C, D, F, G, M, or N.