An Overview of Medicare Supplement Plans

There are many plan options to consider for your Medicare coverage, but it can be pretty overwhelming if you’re just getting started on your journey. Medicare Supplement plans are amongst the plans you should consider for your medical coverage. Here is an overview of Medicare Supplement plans to give you a basic understanding of what they can do for you.

What are Supplement Plans?

Supplement plans, also known as Medigap plans, assist you in paying for your part of cost-sharing expenses with Medicare. Medicare pays 80% of approved medical services, leaving you with 20%. However, a Medigap plan helps pay for some or all the remaining 20%, depending on the plan. They help you cover the “gaps” in Medicare coverage.

Currently, there are ten different Medigap plans: Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, Plan F, Plan G, Plan K, Plan L, Plan M, and Plan N. Each plan offers a different amount of coverage. For example, Plan B will cover 100% of the Part A deductible, but Plan K will only cover 50%.

But, which plan is better? The most popular plans among Medicare beneficiaries are Plan F, Plan G, and Plan N. However, Medigap Plan F is only available to people who were eligible for Medicare before January 1, 2020.

All Medigap plan types have the same benefits no matter the carrier. For example, a Plan L with United Healthcare is the same as a Plan L with Humana. Additionally, if a doctor accepts Medicare, they must take your Medigap plan as well.

How much do Medigap plans cost?

The exact cost for a Medigap plan depends on a few different factors, including tobacco use, gender, zip code, age, and more. Although the benefits remain the same with each carrier, the premiums for each Medigap plan will differ depending on the mentioned factors.

Rate Increases

Medigap plans also have rate increases, meaning the premiums will increase. These rate increases usually occur on the plan’s anniversary date. However, some rate increases can occur at other times during the year. It will depend on your specific plan.

There are three different types of rate increases: community-rated, issued-age-rated, and attained-age-rated. Community-rated Medigap plans charge the same premium to everyone enrolled in that policy. Issued-age-rated plans are based on the age you enrolled in the plan. Attained-age-rated plans are based on your current age. However, all three can increase based on inflation and other factors as well.

The exact plan types available to you will depend on your zip code and what’s offered in your area.

Which Medigap plan is best for you?

The right Medigap plan for you will depend on your specific situation. Plan F, Plan G, and Plan N tend to have higher premiums because they offer the most comprehensive coverage of all the Medigap plans. For example, your only out-of-pocket costs for Medicare-approved services would be the Part B deductible with Plan G.

 Suppose you’re looking for slightly lower premiums. In that case, you may consider enrolling in a different Medigap plan besides Plan F, Plan G, and Plan N. However, keep in mind if you choose a Medigap plan with a lower premium, you may have more out-of-pocket costs.

When can I enroll in a Medigap plan?

You can sign up for a Medigap plan six months from your Medicare Part B effective date. This is known as your Medigap Open Enrollment period. You can enroll in any Medigap plan during this period without answering health questions and passing underwriting.

However, this enrollment period is a one-time opportunity for most people. Once it’s over, you can’t use it again, meaning if you ever wanted to change Medigap plans in the future, you would most likely have to go through underwriting.

Final Thoughts

Although signing up for a Medigap plan is optional, it’s recommended you enroll in one if you can afford it and feel it would be a good option for you. Without one, you would be responsible for 20% of your Medicare-approved costs.

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