If you’re approaching 65 and retirement’s around the corner, you’re likely looking at healthcare options and planning
When considering Original Medicare with a MediGap plan, the first question you are probably thinking is-
What is a Medicare Supplement Plan?
When you enroll into Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B, you are covered under Original Medicare. Although Original Medicare covers a lot of your hospital and outpatient services, it doesn’t cover everything. Your Original Medicare coverage has what Medicare refers to as “gaps” Medicare Supplement plans, also know as MediGap plans, are designed to fill these gaps in coverage. There are 12 different plans available, each named after a letter A-N. Each lettered plan has a different coverage level, so it is important to assess all of your options.
Something very crucial to remember with Medicare Supplement plans is that these plans are standardized. This means that the core benefits of a specific plan can not change, regardless of insurance carrier. For example, the benefits of Plan G with insurance carrier A are the exact same as with insurance carrier B. Further, these plans are regulated on the state and federal level, which helps to protect you as the consumer.
It is important to note that Medicare Supplement plans and MediGap plans are the same plans with two different names. Both these names are used interchangeably, but describe the exact same plan types.
Medicare Supplement Plans
As we mentioned before, a MediGap plan fills in the gaps left by Original Medicare. This means that these Medicare Supplement plans are insurance policies that pay their portion of claims, after Medicare has paid its portion. The gaps left by Original Medicare can include:
To break it down, essentially your doctor or provider is going to bill Medicare for the entire cost of your visit or service. Your doctor does not send any type of bill or claim to your Medicare Supplement plan company. Once Medicare has received the claim and paid their portion, Medicare will then send the remained of the claim to your Medicare Supplement plan insurance carrier. Your Medicare Supplement insurance carrier will then pay the rest of the claim balance, based on your level of coverage. If you are enrolled in a plan that requires certain copayments, those will likely be due at the time of service.
Which MediGap Plan is the Best?
When it comes to Medicare Supplement plans, the truth is that there is no BEST options. Each plan has different benefits and dependent on your healthcare and budget needs, it is important to assess all of your options.
You may be wondering, “what is the most popular Medicare Supplement plan?”
In terms of popularity, over the past few years, Medicare Supplement plan F and Medicare Supplement plan G have been the most widely purchase MediGap plans. The reason for their popularity is the large amount of coverage offered by both plans. There is only one minor difference in coverage between these two plans, which will be detailed below.
Although MediGap Plan G and MediGap Plan F have been historically the most popular choices, they aren’t the only option for coverage. There are other plans, such as Medicare Supplement plan N and Medicare Supplement plan G High-Deductible that are also very viable options for coverage. These two plans have a bit more cost-sharing with their coverage, but this cost-sharing also comes at a lower premium.
As we mentioned above, there is no best plan or one-size fits all option when it comes to Medicare Supplement plans. It is best to understand the differences in coverage levels between the plans before making a decision.
Give us a call at 877-88KEITH (53484), an experienced agent will be able to review your options for you to help you make a decision on your Medicare enrollment.
Comparing Plans and Benefits
Comparing these plans is relatively easy. Every year, Medicare will release any changes to the Medicare Supplement plans being offered. From there, we can compare all of the available MediGap plans side-by-side based on their difference in coverage:
Medicare Supplements - Plans and Options
Below you will see a breakdown of each letter plan’s coverage level-
Medicare Supplement Plan A
This is the most basic of all the plans. Every state and insurer is required to offer MediGap plan A (sometimes under a different name). It is important to remember that this is Plan A NOT Part A. While simple, it still covers the 20% that Medicare will not pay for outpatient treatments. When it comes to any plans, this is an essential benefit with any of them. However, it is important to take note that there is quite a bit of cost-share involved in this plan, specifically with the Part A and B deductibles. Visit our page on Medicare Supplement Plan A for further explanation of coverage.
Medicare Supplement Plan B
This plan covers everything that Plan A will cover, but also picks up the deductible for Part A hospital stays. This plan, like the others, pays after Medicare does. It is important to remember that this is Plan B NOT Part B. Visit our page on Medicare Supplement Plan B for further explanation of coverage.
Medicare Supplement Plan C
This supplement is relatively comprehensive. It will cover almost every benefit listed, except for excess charges from Medicare. It will include both deductibles for Parts A and B, along with the 20% that you’d typically pay for any outpatient expenses. It is important to remember that this is Plan C NOT Part C. This plan, along with F, is not available to anyone who turned 65 in the year 2020 or later. Visit our page on Medicare Supplement Plan C for further explanation of coverage.
Medicare Supplement Plan D
This plan will cover most services, except for two Part B charges- the Part B annual deductible and Part B excess charges. Plan D is very similar to the coverage offered by Plan N, although the premium for Plan D is generally much less cost-efficient than Plan N. It is important to remember that this is Plan D NOT Part D. Visit our page on Medicare Supplement Plan D for further explanation of coverage.
Medicare Supplement Plan F
When it comes to Medigap plans, F has historically been the most popular of all the supplements. The reason for this popularity is that MediGap Plan F will cover all of the benefits listed, with no additional cost-share aside from your monthly premium. Basically, for any covered services, this will leave you with no out-of-pocket costs. This plan comes with a lot of peace of mind for many people as it covers copays for visits and hospital stays.
There is also a high-deductible Plan F option as well, which carriers an annual deductible of $2,370. Once the deductible is met for the year, your F High-Deductible plan becomes a plan F. This High-Deductible plan has a very affordable premium and is a great option in many states. Visit our page on Medicare Supplement Plan F for further explanation of coverage.
Medicare Supplement Plan G
Another popular supplement to your Medicare is going to be Plan G. It will cover everything Plan F does except for the Part B annual deductible, which in 2021 is $203. Typically the monthly premium for MediGap plan G is much more cost-efficient than Plan F, even with the Part B deductible. Medicare Supplement Plan G also offers a lot of peace of mind, with a very limited cost-share and very full coverage. Visit our page on Medicare Supplement Plan G for further explanation of coverage.
Medicare Supplement Plan K
This plan offers partial coverage of specific benefits. MediGap Plan K offers 50% coverage on different services such as the Part A deductible. This type of plan is not as popular due to the cost-sharing amount compared to the premium. Visit our page on Medicare Supplement Plan K for further explanation of coverage.
Medicare Supplement Plan L
Like MediGap Plan K, this plan also offers partial coverage of specific benefits. MediGap Plan L offers 75% coverage on different services such as the Part A deductible. This type of plan is not as popular due to the cost-sharing amount compared to the premium. Visit our page on Medicare Supplement Plan L for further explanation of coverage.
Medicare Supplement Plan M
Like MediGap Plan M, this plan also offers 50% coverage on certain benefits. MediGap Plan M has higher coverage than Plan K, but still has a large amount of cost-sharing. This type of plan is not as popular due to the cost-sharing amount compared to the premium. Visit our page on Medicare Supplement Plan M for further explanation of coverage.
Medicare Supplement Plan N
MediGap Plan N was introduced as a Medicare Supplement plan option in 2010. This plan comes in at an affordable premium but does have some cost-sharing included. The main cost-sharing aspects are the Part B annual deductible, certain copayments, and the possibility of an excess charges (in 42 states). Although this may sound like a lot of out-of-pocket, it is quite easy to limit these cost-shares, and the low premium for Plan N typically makes this plan very cost-efficient. Visit our page on Medicare Supplement Plan N for further explanation of coverage.
Give us a call at 877-88KEITH (53484), an experienced agent will be able to review your options for you to help you make a decision on which Medicare Supplement plan is the right fit
What Doctors Take Medicare Supplement Plans?
One of the best features of a Medigap plan is the ability to see any doctor that is taking part in Medicare. This can mean access to thousands of providers across the country. If a doctor accepts Medicare as an insurance, they will also accept your Medicare Supplement plan, regardless of the insurance carrier. This is a fantastic benefit of a MediGap plan! You do not have to worry about checking to see if your new doctor or specialist is in network. You can even take your Medicare Supplement plan with you across state lines to see the best providers in the country!
Keep in mind that a Medigap plan is not the same as a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage Plans or Medicare Part C will require you to use a network of doctors. If you stay with your Original Medicare and choose a Medigap plan, then you can see any physician that accepts Medicare. In the United States, 93% of all primary care doctors will accept Medicare.
In many states, the type of plans that’s the most cost-effective will be the attained-age-rated. For other states, this may be the Issue-age-rated. Remember that any issue-age-rated Medigap policy will have annual increases in its rate. This is due to inflation within the cost of healthcare.
What do Medicare Supplement Plans Cost?
Keep in mind that all plans are standardized. This will help you narrow down your search for a better plan. While each company will set its rates, the benefits for Plan G will be the same for every company, no matter where you purchase it. This is for all plans. Once you know the benefits, you can now shop by price to fit your budget.
Rates will vary based on plan types and coverage levels. For instance, Medicare Supplement Plan G has less cost-sharing than Medicare Supplement Plan N, therefore Plan G typically has a higher premium.
Once you have selected the MediGap plan you wish to enroll in, it is important to understand how the premiums are set. There are three different ways Medicare Supplement premiums can be rated:
- Community-rated: When it comes to this type of a rating system, everyone will pay the same no matter what their age. However, when it comes to inflation, this will directly affect the pricing, but it will not increase as you get older.
- Issue-age-rated: This part of the premium will be based on how old you were when you made the plan’s purchase. It means to you that the younger you are, the less it’s going to cost you when you purchase your plan. However, the price will not go up as you get older.
- Attained-age-rated: With this type of rating system, your premium will start low and increase as you get older.
Give us a call at 877-88KEITH (53484), an experienced agent will be able to review your options for you and explain the Medicare Supplement plan premium rating in your state.
How to Compare MediGap Plans
Once you got the benefits down, it’s time to shop around for the best price for what you need or want for your current and future healthcare needs. Here are some helpful tips to help you succeed in your search for a better deal.
- Work with an independent agents, such as the agents at Medicare On Video, who represent multiple insurance carriers and can find you the most cost-efficient premiums.
- Ask about the financial rating and history of the insurance carrier you are interested in.
- Learn about previous rate increase history for the insurance carriers you are interested in. Although we aren’t able to predict the future, it is helpful to assess what these insurance carriers have done in the past.
- Ask about things such as household discounts if both you are your spouse are applying for Medicare Supplement plans at the same time.
Working with an agent will help you in your search for the best plan. Ensure your agent specializes in Medicare, so you get the most knowledgeable help in making the best choice out of your options. A carrier with a stable long-term rate is something you want to look into.
While comparing plans can be challenging and take some time, you want to make sure that all your bases are covered. When it comes to your healthcare, you don’t want to leave any coverage gaps if necessary. Medical bills can pile up quickly, and spending your hard-earned retirement on these expenses instead of living your life can add more stress to your life than you want.
Some Medigap plans are more popular than others, but you also need to consider your budget and overall healthcare needs. Your retirement should be lived to the fullest and not worrying about whether you’ll pay these months’ medical bills. Compare and pick the one for your needs.