One of the stressful parts of being an older adult is wondering if you have the right health insurance coverage for your present and future needs. While Medicare offers quality coverage, it doesn't pay for everything. One way to avoid unexpected medical expenses is to enroll in Medigap, also known as Medicare Supplement Insurance. Read on to find out if you're eligible, what the plans cover, and how to ensure you choose the best plan at the lowest cost.
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What is Medigap?
Medigap helps fill in the gaps in Medicare's coverage by lowering out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments for services and supplies. Seniors are eligible for Medigap the month they turn 65. At that time, the six-month Medigap open enrollment begins. Medigap benefit plans may also be available to individuals under 65 due to disability or end-stage renal disease.
Quick Tip: Turning 65 this year? Head to our Medicare enrollment guide for an inside look at everything you need to know before enrollment starts.
What Does Medigap Cover?
There are a total of 10 federally standardized Medigap insurance plan options. Each plan has been assigned a letter of the alphabet. If you became eligible for Medicare after January 1, 2020, Medigap Plans C and F are no longer available. However, individuals enrolled in these plans before January 1, 2020, may remain enrolled. Seniors who enrolled after January 1, 2020, have access to the other eight Medigap plans.
Each Medigap insurance plan has a different combination of benefits. Common benefits across most plans include:
- Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs
- Medicare Part A hospice care copayment or coinsurance
- Medicare Part B medical expenses copayment or coinsurance
- Blood transfusions
Other benefits such as skilled nursing facility care, Medicare Part A and Part B deductibles, and foreign travel emergency health coverage vary based on the plan. Take time to compare the coverage for each Medigap plan. Not all plans cover 100 percent of each benefit. For example, Plan G pays 100 percent of the Part A deductible, while Plan L pays only 75 percent.
Note: Medigap policies are standardized for residents of Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin in a different way. If you live in one of these three states, it's important to review and understand your state offerings.
Medicare Supplement Plans Comparison Chart 2023
|Medigap Benefits||Plan A||Plan B||Plan C*||Plan D||Plan F*||Plan G||Plan K||Plan L||Plan M||Plan N|
|Medicare Part A Coinsurance and Hospital Costs (plus coverage for 365 additional days after Medicare benefits end)||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%|
|Medicare Part A Hospice Care Copayment or Coinsurance||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||50%||75%||100%||100%|
|Medicare Part B Medical Expenses Copayment or Coinsurance||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||50%||75%||100%||100%|
|Skilled Nursing Facility Care Coinsurance1||None||None||100%||100%||100%||100%||50%||75%||100%||100%|
|Bloodwork (first three pints annually)||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||50%||75%||100%||100%|
|Medicare Part A Deductible||None||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%||50%||75%||50%||100%|
|Medicare Part B Deductible||None||None||100%||None||100%||None||None||None||None||None|
|Medicare Part B Excess Charge (for individuals who have Original Medicare)||None||None||None||None||100%||100%||None||None||None||None|
|Foreign Travel Emergency Health Care2||None||None||80%||80%||80%||80%||None||None||80%||80%|
|Annual Out-of-Pocket Maximum||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||$6,620||$3,310||N/A||N/A|
*Effective January 1, 2020, Medigap Plans C, Plan F, and High-Deductible Plan F are no longer available to newly eligible individuals.
**High-Deductible Plan G is also available in some states.
A Closer Look at Some of the Most Popular Medigap Plans
What Is Medigap Plan F?
It's important to note, effective January 1, 2020, Medigap Plan F is no longer available for new enrollees. If you're a senior already enrolled in Plan F, nothing will change, and you will remain enrolled. Plan F was one of the most popular plans among older adults before it was discontinued for new enrollees.
Medigap Plan F is the most comprehensive plan, as it fills in all of the gaps (remaining expenses) from Medicare Part A and Part B. What makes the plan so attractive is its low premium cost versus high coverage of all coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles. The only out of pocket costs you incur is 20 percent of any foreign travel emergency health care.
What Is Medigap Plan G?
For newly eligible seniors searching for a Medigap plan similar to Plan F, Medigap Plan G is an excellent option. Plan G offers close to the same comprehensive coverage as Plan F, except that Plan G does not cover the Medicare Part B annual deductible.
Except for your Medicare Part B deductible, Medigap Plan G covers costs for inpatient hospital charges, blood transfusions, ambulance transportation, and outpatient services, including doctor visits, lab work, and medical supplies such as durable medical equipment. Hospice and skilled nursing facility care are also covered under Medigap Plan G.
What Is Medigap Plan N?
If you're looking for a Medigap plan with lower monthly premiums, Plan N is a solid option. With Plan N, you're responsible for your Medicare Part B deductible, copayments up to $20 for office visits, and $50 for emergency room visits that don't result in inpatient admission. These copayments translate into a wallet-friendly premium. Plan N does not cover excess charges (the amount a provider can charge over the Medicare-approved amount), so confirm with your provider that they accept Medicare as full payment.3
How Much Is Medigap Insurance?
Medigap insurance will vary by state, person, and provider. Your Medigap premium may be based on factors including your gender, age, where you live, if you smoke, and your marital status.
Regarding cost, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and New Jersey tend to have the highest Medigap annual premiums, while Hawaii, New Mexico, and Iowa have the least expensive yearly costs. For example, Louisiana’s Medigap Plan D premiums range from $129 to $4275 for a 65-year-old male that doesn’t use tobacco, while Hawaii's Plan D premiums range from $117 to $285.5
|Medigap plan||Average monthly cost*|
*Prices will vary by state, individual, and Medigap provider. The above numbers are estimated averages and should only be used as starting guidelines.
FYI: Medicare doesn’t pay any of the costs for you to get a Medigap policy. You are responsible for Medigap policy premiums.
Choosing a Medigap Plan
Choosing the right Medigap plan can be stressful. You not only need to determine which plan best meets your current medical needs, but you'll also need to think of your future healthcare requirements. Choosing the “wrong” plan can result in costly out-of-pocket expenses should you need blood transfusions, hospice care, or skilled nursing facility care in the future.
Not all insurance companies sell Medigap insurance in your state, so start by compiling a list of what company options you have to choose from. Enter your ZIP code into the Medicare.gov website to find Medigap policies in your area. The annual Medigap policy guide released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is an excellent resource to explore. For unbiased counseling and support, contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP).
Choosing a Health Insurance Company for Your Medigap Plan
Since Medigap is offered by private insurance companies, you can shop around, just as you would for a car or new TV. Comparing insurance companies will ensure you're receiving the best price for your selected Medigap plan. Make a detailed list of providers you contact, representative names, the date of contact, and plan costs and details. Keeping this data organized will aid you in making a final decision.
Keep in mind, regardless of the insurance company, each Medigap plan is federally standardized. This means the plans offer the same basic benefits. For example, Plan G from Aetna is identical to Plan G at other health insurance companies such as UnitedHealthcare or Blue Cross Blue Shield. The bottom line: you'll receive the same plan coverage across the board, no matter which insurance company you select.
Before choosing your Medigap insurance company, contact three to five companies to compare costs. Important questions to ask include:
- Is the insurance company licensed in your state?
- Does the insurance company offer the plan(s) you're interested in within your state?
- How is the Medigap policy priced? Is it based on community-rating, issue-age-rating, or attained-age-rating?
- Are discounts offered? Discounted rates may be available if two members of the same household enroll with the company. Automatic premium deductions (direct from a bank account) can result in a discount as well.
- Is there an application or processing fee? Some insurance companies may charge you to apply for their insurance. Others may charge you a processing fee if you pay your monthly premium by credit card.
- Does the insurance company use medical underwriting?
Pro Tip: From medical and dental to life and long-term disability, our comprehensive insurance guide takes a deep dive into the different types of insurance, the best insurance plans, and the latest plan reviews.
Can I Enroll in Medicare Supplement Programs at Any Time?
You can enroll in your state's Medigap benefits at any time. However, when you enroll is key to receiving the best policy options and rates.
Take advantage of all Medigap has to offer by enrolling during Medigap's six-month open enrollment. Your Medigap open enrollment period begins the month you turn 65 and enroll in Medicare. During open enrollment, healthcare companies are federally required to provide Medigap with “no questions asked.” This means insurance companies cannot deny you a policy, even if you have health conditions.5
Did You Know: If you hold off on enrolling in Medicare Part B because you have group health coverage from your, or your spouse's, current employer, your Medigap open enrollment period won't begin until you sign up for Part B.6
If you choose to wait until after your six-month window, you can still apply for Medigap, but you may be denied insurance as you are no longer protected under federal requirements. After open enrollment, insurance companies can deny coverage due to preexisting or current health conditions or the prescription medications you take. If you are deemed eligible for coverage, you may have limited policy options, higher premiums, and a waiting period before receiving care for preexisting conditions.
Can I Change My Medigap Plan?
It's essential to choose a Medigap plan that will properly cover your current and future health needs. For most individuals, you will not be able to change your Medigap plan once you have enrolled. However, if you fall under these two exceptions, you do have the ability to change plans:
- If you are within your Medigap six-month open enrollment period.
- If you have guaranteed issue rights or fall under determined circumstances.
Did You Know: You have lawful rights in certain situations that require insurance companies to sell or offer you a Medigap policy, even if you have health problems.5 These rights are known as guaranteed issue rights.
Medigap vs. Medicare Advantage Plans
The names may sound similar, but Medicare Supplement Programs (Medigap) and Medicare Advantage Plans are two completely different insurance plans. Both are offered through private insurance companies but differ on coverage. Medicare Advantage Plans are based on in-network providers, require referrals, and typically cover prescription, vision, hearing, and dental costs (all with a copayment). You can change your Medicare Advantage plan annually.
In comparison, Medigap plans allow the flexibility of choosing your own providers; however, you are locked into your initial plan choice unless you fall under a federal exception. Medigap doesn't cover prescription drugs, vision, hearing, and dental. To receive prescription coverage, Medigap enrollees must purchase separate Medicare Part D coverage.7
For a more detailed comparison of these plans, visit our Medigap vs. Medicare Advantage guide.
Quick Tip: Looking for supplemental prescription or vision coverage? Check out our list of the best Medicare Part D plans and our top-ranking vision plans for seniors.
Medigap Resource Center
Understanding Medicare's parts, plans, supplemental coverage, and enrollment can be challenging! Our editor-in-chief, Jeff Hoyt, breaks it all down in the video below.
The Best Medigap Plans
Interested in enrolling in Medigap? We've put together our top picks for Medigap plans for various needs and lifestyles. Check out the resources below!
- Best Medigap plans for seniors
- Best Medigap plans for healthy seniors
- Best Medigap plans for low-income seniors
- Best Medigap plans for seniors with cancer
- Best Medigap plans for seniors with diabetes
Our Latest Medigap Provider Reviews
We've reviewed the nation's leading Medigap providers to help you find the company and plan that's right for you. Visit our reviews below to learn more.