Medicare Supplement policies, also called Medigap policies, can prevent unexpected medical bills. Without a Medigap plan, Original Medicare policyholders will find tracking deductibles can be cumbersome and paying for regular medical treatment out of pocket can be expensive. The best Medicare Supplement plan for you will depend on your health and budget.
What is the best Medicare Supplement?
The best Medicare Supplement plan will be the plan that balances costs and coverage. In general, policies that provide better coverage for medical care will have higher monthly premiums.
|Medicare Part A coinsurance|
|Medicare Part B coinsurance||50%||75%|
|Blood (3 pints)||50%||75%|
|Part A hospice care coinsurance||50%||75%|
|Skilled nursing facility coinsurance||50%||75%|
|Medicare Part A deductible||50%||75%||50%|
|Medicare Part B deductible|
|Medicare Part B excess charges|
|Foreign travel emergency||80%||80%||80%||80%||80%||80%|
Average costs are for a 65-year-old female nonsmoker. Rates vary by location, age, gender and other factors.
Plan G is good for people who want very few medical bills and are willing to pay about $145 each month. This can give you peace of mind so that you won't be surprised by unexpected medical costs. However, if you expect the amount you pay for medical care to be less than the plan's annual cost of about $1,740, then a cheaper Supplement plan may be more cost-effective.
Plans F and C have better coverage than Plan G, but they're not available for new enrollees.
How to choose the best Medicare Supplement plan
The average cost of a Medicare Supplement plan is $139 per month for 2023. However, rates can vary widely from about $50 to more than $400 per month.
To choose a Medicare Supplement plan, look for the policy that provides the best benefits for your medical needs and fills in the coverage gaps where you expect to spend the most on health care.
For example, if you need skilled nursing care, your costs are fully covered by Medigap Plan G. But with Medigap Plan K, only half of the coinsurance is covered, and Medigap Plan A has no coverage for skilled nursing coinsurance. Similarly, if you expect to need hospital care, a plan that pays for the Medicare Part A deductible can help protect you from a large hospital bill.
Say you need surgery in the upcoming year. For the 2023 plan year, the Medicare Part A deductible is $1,600. Some supplemental policies, such as Medigap Plan A, won't pay for this deductible. That leaves you responsible for paying the entire $1,600 before your Original Medicare coverage would kick in.
On the other hand, if you choose Medigap Plan G, the $1,600 deductible would be fully covered by your Supplement policy. And because Plan G also covers any inpatient coinsurance costs, your surgery will be free. However, you should also consider the cost of the plan since Plan G can be more expensive than other Medigap plans.
This is why you should carefully analyze what each Medigap plan covers and costs so that you can choose the best one for your situation. Often, there is an ideal supplemental policy for your health care needs.
Find Cheap Medicare Plans in Your Area
Best Medicare Supplement plan for those eligible before 2020: Plan F
If you qualified for Medicare before Jan. 1, 2020, Plan F is the best Medigap plan. Plans will cover all the items that you would usually need to pay for out of pocket, including deductibles and coinsurance.
Plan F is a good option if you want a comprehensive policy that will give you peace of mind about day-to-day expenses, such as paying a copay for a doctor's office visit. The premium for Plan F averages $179 per month, which makes this plan one of the most expensive options. Unfortunately, Plan F is not available to new Medicare enrollees who become eligible after Jan. 1, 2020. Anyone who currently has Plan F will be able to keep their coverage.
Best Medicare Supplement plan for new enrollees: Plan G
Medicare Supplement Plan G is the best overall plan that provides the most coverage for seniors and Medicare enrollees. Plan G will cover almost everything except the Medicare Part B deductible, which is only $226 for 2023. After you pay this, Plan G will begin to pay for services such as doctor visits, blood tests or outpatient medical treatment.
Plan G is the most popular Medicare Supplement plan for new enrollees. However, rates can be expensive, averaging $145 per month. Therefore, you should weigh the cost of this monthly premium with your potential medical expenses for the year.
Best cheap Medicare Supplement plan: Plan K
If you are interested in the cheapest Medigap policy that still provides some coverage on top of Original Medicare, you may want to look into Plan K.
Plan K is significantly different from many other Medigap policies since it only covers half of the following costs: Medicare Part B coinsurance, blood, Part A hospice, skilled nursing and the Part A deductible. Many other Medigap plans, such as Plan G, provide full reimbursements for these types of health care.
This is crucial to consider if you need health insurance coverage for skilled nursing. In this case, if you were to get Plan K, only 50% of such costs would be covered.
On the other hand, your monthly premiums with Plan K will be much cheaper. Policyholders can expect to pay about $77 per month, making it the best Medicare Supplement plan for low-income seniors.
Best alternative to Medicare Supplement Plan G: Plan N
Plan N is a good option for individuals who want coverage that's nearly as good as Plan G but at a cheaper price.
The difference between the two plans is that Plan N has extra $20 copays for doctor appointments, and it doesn't have coverage for Medicare Part B excess charges. Without this excess charge coverage, you could have additional fees if your doctor or medical provider doesn't accept the Medicare-approved amount of payment for health care services. You can protect yourself from this cost by either getting Plan G or double-checking that your medical providers accept the Medicare-approved amount for services.
If you're willing to make this trade-off, you'll pay about $111 per month for Plan N, a $34 savings versus Plan G.
Remember that neither Original Medicare nor a Medicare Supplement plan covers prescription drugs. For that, you'll need a separate Medicare Part D plan.
Why you might pay more for a Medicare Supplement plan
How you can pay less for a Medicare Supplement plan
- Look for a household discount (available from some companies)
- Choose a high-deductible Plan F or G
- Choose a Medigap Select plan where your coverage is limited to a network of doctors
Best Medicare Supplement companies
Unlike with traditional health insurance, where policies differ among providers, Medicare Supplement plans are standardized so that the benefits for each plan letter are the same for each company. This means that Medicare Supplement Plan G from UnitedHealthcare will be identical in coverage to the Plan G offered through Aetna.
However, rates will change from company to company since each provider will choose a different pricing structure for its Medicare Supplement plans. It's important that you take this into account along with each provider’s financial strength and history of rate increases. Some companies may offer cheap rates but will increase your rates more quickly as you age.
AARP's popular plans have some of the cheapest rates, making them a good way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for health care.
- Medigap plans offered: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L and N
- Cost of Plan G: $131 per month
AARP/UnitedHealthcare (UHC) is one of the best Medigap companies, offering the security of an AARP endorsement and the strength of a major health insurance company. It provides a good value on coverage because it has so many add-on programs such as discounts on vision and dental care. There are many plan options available, and the company also offers Medicare Select Plan G and N. These lower-cost options provide the plan's standardized benefits but limit some health care to in-network providers. Additionally, UHC has great financial strength, with a score of A from AM Best.
Aetna Medicare Supplement plans provide low-cost coverage, but the company falls short in other key areas.
- Medigap plans offered: A, B, C, D, F, G, N, high-deductible F and high-deductible G
- Cost of Plan G: $137 per month
Aetna Medicare Supplement plans generally have competitive rates, and Aetna is one of the cheapest companies for Plan G in states such as North Carolina, Iowa and Arizona. Aetna also offers high-deductible plans in many states. These plans are cheap, costing $37 to $52 per month, on average, but you'll have higher medical costs until you meet the $2,700 deductible. A downside is that Aetna's Medicare Supplement program gets about 57% more complaints than is typical for its size.
Cigna offers a limited number of Medigap plans in 45 states with overall higher rates than competitors.
- Medigap plans offered: A, B, C, D, F, G, N, high-deductible F and high-deductible G
- Cost of Plan G: $150 per month
Cigna Medigap plans are widely available across 45 states. Cigna's Medicare Supplement plans are generally priced higher than plans from some other companies, but using the company's household premium discount can help you to get a better deal. The discount is available in most states when multiple family members in the same household enroll in the same Cigna Medigap plan.
Frequently asked questions
Which Medicare Supplement plan is the best?
For most people, we recommend Medigap Plan G from AARP/UnitedHealthcare, which costs about $131 per month for a 65-year-old. This plan will give you comprehensive medical coverage from a well-rated company. However, all Supplement plans have standardized benefits that will help protect you from out-of-pocket medical expenses you'd have with Original Medicare (Part A and Part B).
How much do Medicare Supplement plans usually cost?
A Medicare Supplement plan costs about $139 per month for 2023. However, the range of costs is especially wide because of the variety of plans available and pricing factors such as age and location. Some people enrolled in a Supplement plan can pay less than $50 per month, while others can pay more than $400.
What's the most popular Medicare Supplement plan?
Plan F and Plan G are the two most popular Medigap plans. Plan F is only available to those who qualified for Medicare before 2020, but because of its comprehensive benefits, about 46% of Medicare Supplement enrollees have chosen this plan. Plan G has 27% of the market, making it the most popular choice for those who are newly eligible for Medicare.
What's the least expensive Medicare Supplement plan?
Plan K is the cheapest Medigap plan, with an average cost of $77 per month for 2023. For those who are only interested in protecting themselves against major medical expenses, high-deductible Plan G costs $47 per month, on average.
Medicare Supplement policy details are based on information from Medicare.gov and insurance providers. Our recommended providers are based on plan costs, customer reviews, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) complaint index and financial strength ratios.
Costs are based on actuarial data for a 65-year-old woman who doesn't smoke and doesn't qualify for a household discount. Rates are also based on the preferred pricing of initial enrollment when shoppers don't have to answer medical questions. Averages exclude Select plans and plans in states that don't use national standardization.