Our experts have researched 16 medicare supplement insurance plans and recommend 10 of the best options for seniors.
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Top 10 Highest Ranked Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans in 2019
How We Chose Our Top List
Coverage matters. A lot. Unfortunately, finding the right coverage level that doesn’t break the bank can frustrate even the most patient senior. So we did the homework for you — looking at important factors like plans and pricing, signup process, customer service, flexibility, and more. Our top 10 list is the result of our in-depth research. We think you’ll agree that it’s the best online resource for finding the coverage you need.
Cigna’s rates are competitive, but its pricing approach depends on state law. For example, Washington state law mandates community-rated pricing for all Medigap policies. In other words, everyone on Cigna Medigap Plan F in a certain area or ZIP code generally pays the same monthly premium regardless of their age (differences do occur due to factors such as tobacco use).
Meanwhile, in ZIP code 24016 (parts of Virginia) for Policy F, Cigna uses attained age-related pricing. The younger you are, the less you pay for your plan.
Cigna has a good reputation and an extensive reach. It offers a decent choice of Medigap plans in many areas, and seniors can pair their plan with a prescription drug plan if they want. Seniors can’t really go wrong with this company, although the process of getting specific information online isn’t too friendly.
Aetna typically uses attained-age pricing. For example, page 2 of this table gives females in certain Virginia ZIP codes an idea of what they might pay. If they enroll during open-enrollment or guaranteed issue times to get the preferred rate, a 65-year-old female pays $ 1,439 a year for Plan G while a 75-year-old pays $ 1,797. Males pay about $200 to $300 more a year than same-age females.
Aetna gives consumers a lot of information online, reducing the time they must spend on the phone with company personnel. Its attained-age pricing may mean that seniors end up paying significantly more as they age, but this practice is comparable with many insurers. The takeaway is to get an idea of what you’ll pay not just for the next year but for 10 or even 20 years from now.
Mutual of Omaha generally uses attained-age rated pricing. For example, in Virginia ZIP code 24016, a female born in 1954 would pay about $1,187 per year for Plan G without the household discount. Conversely, a female born in 1944 would pay about $1,460. It’s a difference of about $23 a month. You can do price quotes online with varying birth years to get some idea of how much your premiums could go up with Mutual of Omaha as you age.
Mutual of Omaha could be where you find the best price, especially if you qualify for the 12 percent household discount. This insurer has been in the Medicare supplement business since 1966 and made a name for itself as a company that looks out for its customers rather than Wall Street. It is owned by its policyholders.
AARP plans can be a bit pricier than other plans. The company uses a community-rated pricing model, meaning that a 65-year-old would theoretically pay the same as a 75-year-old for the same plan in the same area. However, many AARP customers get discounts when they enroll, and the amount of the discount decreases as they age. In this respect, the pricing model is similar to age attainment.
The monthly rates given for someone, male or female, in ZIP code 24016 in southwest Virginia include $145.76 for Plan F and $113.76 for Plan G. Meanwhile, for ZIP code 98926 in central Washington state, it’s $232.25 for Plan F and $192 for plan G. Where you live matters a lot, as is true with any insurer (the cost of living in your area, for example).
You must be an AARP member, and the yearly fee is $16. Your spouse or partner can receive free membership with yours, and AARP membership gets you a wide variety of discounts on movie tickets, car rentals, eyewear and much more.
Many seniors trust AARP, and its UnitedHealthcare plans are very popular. The community pricing model means that premiums for some younger seniors may be a bit more than what they’d pay with another company, but age-related discounts help offset that.
Furthermore, many insurers do not offer less-popular plans such as K or L while these AARP plans do. If such a plan is what you want, then AARP Medigap is a good choice. Really, it’s a good choice no matter which plan you’re thinking about. One note: High-deductible Plan F is not available.
Colonial Penn issues insurance as units. You can purchase one to eight units for different levels of coverage. Instant quotes are given online.
Colonial Penn makes it easy for seniors to buy insurance online without medical tests. However, the coverage is low. Healthy adults could likely find more coverage for the same cost elsewhere.
Ask your local Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers how they approach pricing (it’ll probably be age attainment). In general, this company is competitive enough on pricing.
If you’ve had good experiences with your local Blue Cross Blue Shield company and use it for other types of insurance, then enrolling with the company again for Medigap insurance may make sense.
If you’re new to Blue Cross Blue Shield, finding a local company for Medigap may be confusing and not always possible. If you do find a company, the process of exploring your options online should be straightforward.
UnitedHealthcare uses a community-rated pricing model. Its prices can be competitive, depending on where you live. Compare quotes from other insurers to see just how comparable they are because in some ZIP codes, UnitedHealthcare/AARP premiums may be significantly higher.
UnitedHealthcare Medigap insurance is the same as AARP Medigap insurance. These plans are popular, and enrollment is easy. The insurer gets high marks for a hassle-free process, but if price is your main consideration, compare quotes from other insurers to see how competitive UnitedHealthcare’s premiums are in your area.
Humana uses attained-age pricing. For example, a 65-year-old nonsmoking female in ZIP code 24016 would pay $103.40 a month for Plan G under the preferred rate. Her 75-year-old counterpart pays $140.54.
Humana makes enrolling online very easy, even offering a small discount for online-only enrollments. Fortunately, additional help is stress-free to get if you need it. You can call a licensed Humana sales agent seven days a week through an 866 toll-free number. Humana also gives you the great option to enroll in prescription, dental and vision plans under the same insurer. If Humana offers the plan you want in your ZIP code, it’s worth serious consideration.
Anthem recalculates your age each year and adjusts your premium accordingly. Like typical insurers, it also considers factors such as ZIP code, gender, tobacco use and whether it is your open-enrollment period.
Anthem Blue Cross gives you a wealth of information upfront to guide your decision as to whether this should be your Medigap insurer. This level of ease and transparency is great, as is the ability to add coverage such as Plan D or vision.
Ask your agent which pricing method the local office uses. In many areas, if not all, attained-age pricing is used. For example, a 65-year-old female in Virginia ZIP code pays $122.82 a month for Plan G while a 75-year-old pays $177.22 a month.
If you already have a State Farm agent you enjoy working with, then it could be a good idea to get your Medigap policy from this insurer. Do still get quotes from at least two other insurers to ensure you’re satisfied with the premium prices you’ll pay. State Farm Medigap rates tend to be a bit pricier than those from many other insurers, so you must decide whether having history and in-person support is worth it.
The purpose of Medigap plans is to help with costs original Medicare does not cover, and each Medigap plan applies to only one person. That said, spouses may be able to get household discounts of five to 12 percent with many insurers. Medigap plans are not Medicare Advantage plans, and they do not include dental, vision or hearing insurance nor prescription drug coverage.
In 2019, there are 10 Medigap insurance plans, each designated by a letter (Wisconsin, Minnesota and Massachusetts do things slightly differently).
Each plan is standardized. For example, the basic benefits you receive under Medigap Plan G are the same in Kentucky as in California. The chart on this Medicare website shows the various plans and the basic benefits they cover.
You must have Medicare Part A and Part B before getting a Medigap plan. After getting original Medicare, decide which Medigap plan you want (A, B, C, D, F, high-deductible F, G, K, L, M or N). Then you can use this Medigap policy search to find the companies selling the plan of your choice in your ZIP code. From there, compare the premium prices and other factors important to you, for example, customer support, in-person agents, whether you already have policies with the company or whether you can purchase additional policies such as Part D or dental insurance.
Plan F is the most popular because there are no surprises whatsoever with your medical costs. However, it’s pricey and can lead to big premium increases from year to year. It is being discontinued in 2020 for most new enrollees. Fortunately, Plan G is nearly identical and is more affordable. The big difference is that seniors on Plan G must pay their Part B deductible, which is $185 in 2019. That’s it. All the other benefits of Plan F versus Plan G are the same. Plan C is the other plan that will be discontinued in 2020 for new enrollees. Plan C does not cover excess Part B charges.
It can be tricky to change your Medigap plan once you enroll, so choose carefully. Think about potential rising premium costs down the road. Experts tend to recommend Plan G over Plan F.
The plan you pick depends on how much of the cost-sharing you’re willing to take on. All of the Medigap insurance plans 100 percent cover Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs for up to 365 days after you use Medicare benefits. They cover Medicare B copayments up to varying levels. For example, all of the plans except K and L cover copayments 100 percent, with K covering 50 percent and L covering 75 percent. Other areas you may want covered include:
Seniors should consider Medigap plans for these reasons:
The reality is that original Medicare pays only about 80 percent of your hospitalization and medical office costs. Medigap plans help keep your costs predictable.
Medicare Advantage plans can be an option, with some covering “extras” such as dental and prescription and some requiring no monthly premiums. However, you could be hit with high out-of-pocket expenses.
Medigap plan costs come down to several factors, notably the following:
Open enrollment is typically the best time to get a plan. It starts the month you turn 65 and lasts six months. During this period, you get what insurers call the “preferred” rate regardless of any pre-existing conditions you may have. Enroll outside of this period, and you may have to pay “standard” rates. It’s also possible for your application to be rejected if you seek Medigap outside of open enrollment.
Now, if you’re waiting to enroll in Medicare Part B and Medigap because you have a spouse whose insurance covers you, you can still have an open-enrollment period for Medigap past your 65th birthday. It begins when the employer’s coverage ends (for example, if your spouse retires).
There’s also something called guaranteed issue in which insurers must give you Medigap coverage even if your open enrollment period has ended. In short, open enrollment can affect your plan’s cost but does not necessarily do so.
Your protections are stronger in these four states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine and New York. For example, New York has continuous enrollment.
Open enrollment aside, your ZIP code may be the biggest factor in how much you pay because of cost-of-living variations and clusters of senior citizen communities. For example, if you live in Miami, Florida, you’ll pay significantly more than you do if you live in Fort Worth, Texas. In such cases, you may save money by going with a Medicare Advantage (Part C) Plan instead of getting Medigap insurance.
As for your age, it really is a big factor. Insurers in many states use attained-age policies. The younger you are, the less you pay. However, some insurers such as AARP/UnitedHealthcare use a community-based approach. Premiums under such plans can still increase from year to year due to factors such as inflation.
In eight states (Arkansas, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington) insurers must use community ratings. These insurers can still charge different rates depending on tobacco use, ZIP code and other factors. They cannot charge more for someone who is older or sicker.
With Mutual of Omaha’s attained-age rated pricing in Virginia ZIP code 24016, a female born in 1954 would pay about $1,187 per year for Plan G without the household discount. Conversely, a female born in 1944 would pay about $1,460.