4 Steps to Choose a Medigap Policy

Choosing the right Medigap policy for you takes only a few key steps. You'll need to find the right fit by identifying your current and future health needs, weighing costs and looking at the quality of Medigap companies.

1. Identify your coverage needs

Most people choose Medigap plans that offer the highest coverage levels, particularly Plans F, G and N.

Medicare Supplement plans do not cover medical services or procedures like normal health insurance does. Instead, they help you manage the roughly 20% of medical costs that Medicare does not pay for.

Some Medigap plans also offer coverage outside of the country. Original Medicare only pays for treatment inside the U.S.

Deciding on your coverage needs comes down to how easily you can handle a major expense, how likely you are to seek care and what your budget can handle. For example, if you have a good amount in savings, you're in good health and you'd like to save on your monthly costs, you should look at Plan K, which offers low coverage levels but costs significantly less than other Medigap plans.

However, if you have ongoing health issues and you travel out of the country often, you should consider Plan G since it has high levels of coverage including up to 80% of your foreign emergency medical costs.

Some states let insurance companies sell "Innovative Medigap" plans that bundle extra coverage areas like vision, dental and wellness programs with traditional Medicare Supplement policies. Coverage details and availability vary by state and provider.

Although most states let you choose from 10 different Medicare Supplement policies, three plans make up over 80% of all Medigap policies sold nationwide.

  • Plans F
  • Plan G
  • Plan N

Plan F accounts for close to half of all Medigap policies sold. However, it's only available to those who became eligible for Medicare before Jan. 1, 2020.

Best Medicare Supplement plans for new enrollees with coverage details

Plan G
Plan N
Plan K
Cost per month$152$118$85
Part A coinsurance
Part B coinsurance
50%
Blood transfusion(3 pints)
50%
Part A hospice care
50%
Skilled nursing facility
50%
Part A deductible
50%
Part B excess charges
Foreign travel emergency80%80%

Average costs are for a 65-year-old woman who doesn't smoke.

Many companies sell a limited number of Medigap plans.

Consider your current and future health needs before choosing a Medigap plan

If you have an ongoing condition, you should look at a policy that provides high levels of coverage like Medicare Supplement Plan G or N. However, if you're in good health, and you don't anticipate major medical costs in the future, you may be better off buying a less expensive Plan K policy.

Switching Medigap plans in the future may open you up to higher rates. That's why it's usually a good idea to pick a plan that works for you now and in the future. If your family has a history of health problems, or if you have a reason to believe you'll need more coverage in the future, you should opt for more coverage with Medigap Plan G or N.

Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Minnesota don't follow the standard 10-plan Medigap format. Instead, Wisconsin offers just one Medigap plan, Minnesota offers two and Massachusetts offers three.

These plans don't have the same letter names as regular Medigap plans. For example, in Minnesota, you can choose from the Basic Plan or the Extended Basic Plan, while in Massachusetts you have the Core Plan, the Supplement 1 Plan and the Supplement 1A Plan.

2. Look at plan cost and quality

Price and customer service quality are the only factors you should consider when choosing between Medigap companies because coverage is the same no matter which you pick. That means two different companies may charge different prices while providing the same coverage.

Companies may offer cheaper plans for a few reasons. For example, some companies are more efficient than others. However, companies that have more expensive plans also often offer better customer service and faster claims processing.

Choosing the cheapest plan in your area may leave you with a headache later on if the company has poor customer service.

You should consider companies like AARP/UnitedHealthcare and Mutual of Omaha if customer service is a high priority for you. These companies tend to receive fewer complaints than average.

On the other hand, companies like typically provide cheap plans but worse customer service.

3. Find discounts and cost savings

Before you buy a Medicare plan, you should see if you can lower your costs even further by taking advantage of discounts and savings programs. Some insurance companies offer bundling discounts if you have another kind of coverage with it.

Many Medicare Supplement providers have discounts for married couples or extended families living in the same house.

Some companies have discounts for paying online or setting up autopay. For example, Humana will take $2 off your monthly rate when you set up an automatic payment through your bank or credit card.

You can get lower rates by enrolling in a Medicare Select plan. These plans offer the same coverage as regular Medigap policies. However, you can only go to doctors within the plan's network.

Medicare Select works like an HMO but for Medicare Supplement policies.

4. Get in touch with a broker or provider

Once you've identified the plan and provider you want, you should get in touch with a local Medicare Supplement broker, or you can buy a plan directly from an insurance company.

Historically, Medigap brokers played a bigger role in the sales process. In the pre-internet era, they were essential for consumers who wanted to compare Medicare Supplement plans. Nowadays, they're less necessary for consumers who know what they want and who aren't afraid to navigate the buying process on their own.

You may choose to use a Medicare Supplement broker if you want to discuss your needs with a qualified professional. Brokers typically have an in-depth knowledge of the products they're selling.

Use a third-party rating platform like Yelp or Google Reviews before you hire an insurance broker. Recommendations from past customers can help you weed out unscrupulous and incompetent agents.

Some insurance companies don't let you buy Medigap policies directly through their website. You may have to call a broker or agent over the phone. If you wait until after your initial enrollment period to buy a Medigap plan, you may have to fill out a health questionnaire and possibly pass a physical in order to qualify for a policy.

Each state runs its own Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) that offers free advice and counseling for Medicare-related topics like how to apply for Medicare. You can speak with a SHIIP agent to learn more about Medicare Supplement policies and coverage.

Frequently asked questions

What Medigap plan do most people choose?

Most people who became eligible for Medicare in the past three years have chosen Plan G because it offers the most complete coverage. Plan N is the second most popular plan for new Medicare enrollees since it has similar coverage levels as Plan G and it's relatively cheap.

Plan F is the most popular Medigap plan overall because it offers the best coverage. However, it's only available to those who became eligible for Medicare before Jan. 1, 2020.

What are the top five Medicare supplement plans?

The top five most popular Medicare Supplement plans are F, G, N, C and D. Keep in mind that you can only buy a Plan F or C policy if you became eligible for Medicare before Jan. 1, 2020.

When should I choose a Medigap plan?

The best time to choose a Medicare Supplement plan is the six-month period before and after you turn age 65, which is called your initial enrollment period. If you wait until after your initial enrollment period, you may be charged a higher rate or denied coverage.

Sources

Medicare Supplement plan details and rules are from Medicare.gov. Medigap policy provider recommendations are based on plan costs, and complaint data is from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

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Invitations for application for insurance may be made through QW Insurance Solutions, LLC ("QWIS"), a subsidiary of QuoteWizard.com, LLC ("QuoteWizard"), a LendingTree subsidiary, or through its designated agents, only where licensed and appointed. Licensing information for QWIS can be found here. QWIS is a non-government licensed health insurance agency. Not affiliated with or endorsed by any government agency.

Callers to QWIS will be directed to a licensed and certified representative of Medicare Supplement insurance and/or Medicare Advantage HMO, HMO SNP, PPO, PPO SNP and PFFS organizations. Calls to QWIS will be routed to a licensed agent who can provide you with further information about the insurance plans offered by one or more third-party partners of QWIS. Each of the organizations they represent has a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any plan depends on contract renewal.

Availability of benefits and plans varies by carrier and location and may be limited to certain times of the year unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. QWIS does not offer every plan available in your area. Any information provided is limited to those plans offered in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE to get information on all of your options.

Deductibles, copays, coinsurance, limitations, and exclusions may apply.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed the information contained on this website. Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system every year.

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