Understanding and Comparing Medicare Supplement Plans

You can hardly be blamed if you find the alphabet-soup nature of Medicare supplement (or Medigap) plans a little confusing.

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Chances are you know the basics when it comes to Medicare supplement insurance. You’re probably aware, for example, that Medicare supplement insurance plans help cover medical and hospital costs approved by Medicare. Medigap plans are private senior health insurance policies designed to fill the gaps in medical coverage left by Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.

You knew that, too. But next comes the tricky part.

For example, while some Medigap plans stick to covering Medicare-approved costs, others go further and offer limited benefits relating to certain expenses not covered by Medicare. But which ones? Plan A? What about Plan C? Or Plan D? And what’s this Plan F you’ve probably heard so much about? For help with comparing Medicare supplement plans, our Medigap Plans A-N comparison chart is a good place to start. But let’s also take a moment here to look at what the various Medigap plans from A to N have to offer.

All Medigap plans provide a basic set of benefits including:

      • Hospitalization: Part A coinsurance plus coverage for 365 additional days after Medicare benefits end.
      • Medical Expenses: Part B coinsurance (generally 20% of Medicare-approved expenses) or copayments for hospital outpatient services. Plans K, L, and N require the insured to pay a portion of Part B coinsurance or copayments.
      • Blood: Your first 3 pints of blood each year.
      • Hospice Care: Part A coinsurance.

All Medigap plans also cover Part B coinsurance charges for Medicare preventive care. This is a great incentive to take advantage of every Medicare preventive service you’re eligible to receive. Whichever Medicare supplement plan you choose, you’ll be in a great position to receive screenings and other services that can help detect potential health problems before they become serious.

Medigap Plan A is the Medicare supplement plan that Medicare supplement insurance companies are required by law to make available to all Medicare-eligible individuals. Therefore, Plan A offers the lowest level of benefits among Medicare supplement plans. Plans B to N add varying levels of coverage on top of what Plan A covers. If you’re looking for a Medigap plan designed to eliminate most of your out-of-pocket medical and hospital costs, chances are you’ll be drawn to Plan G or, especially, Plan F. Plan F is designed to fill all the high-risk gaps in basic Medicare coverage. With Plan F you won’t have to worry about paying one penny out of pocket for any Medicare-approved hospital or medical costs including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance charges. Plan F covers all Medicare-approved costs not covered by Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.

For further information about Medicare supplement insurance and its various options, check out the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services publication, Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare.

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