What Are Medicare Supplement Plans?

16 minute read| Updated for December, 2020
Key Takeaways:
  • Medicare Supplement plans, also known as Medigap, allow you to receive private health insurance benefits outside of Medicare and Medicaid plans.
  • There are 10 supplemental insurance plans to choose from. Supplement plans work alongside Original Medicare, not in place of it.
  • Medicare Supplement plans are designed to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses and keep your health care coverage affordable.
  • Medicare supplemental insurance costs vary and depend on factors like location, plan rating, and the insurance company the plan is offered through.

What are the Basic Benefits of Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans?

You can choose from a number of Medicare Supplement plans, and each plan is required to offer certain standardized, basic benefits. These standardized, basic benefits remain the same no matter the insurance company.

medicare information

Standardized, basic benefits that must be covered to an extent include:

  • Medicare Part A hospice care copayments or coinsurance
  • They allow you to see any doctor or specialist who accepts Medicare without a referral
  • Medicare Part B copayments or coinsurance
  • Cost of the initial 3 pints of blood utilized for a medical procedure

Why Should You Consider Medicare Supplement Plans?

Supplemental insurance plans allow you to receive private health insurance benefits outside of the federally regulated Medicare plans.

Supplemental insurance plans also open up the opportunity for sicker patients to have a larger amount of their medical expenses covered. Unexpected and regular out-of-pocket expenses can add up quickly. Having supplemental insurance offers a safety net to help keep these expenses from becoming lifelong, major debt.

Insurance companies offering Medicare Supplement plans aren’t required to offer every type of Medigap plan.

What Types of Medicare Supplement Plans are Available?

Medicare Supplement Plan A

Not to be mistaken with Medicare Part A, Medicare Plan A covers fewer out-of-pocket expenses than any other supplement plan. Medicare Part A only covers the required basic benefits listed previously.

What coverage does Medicare Plan A offer?

  • Standardized, basic benefits
  • Medicare Supplement Plan B

Medicare Part A does not cover:

  • Any other out-of-pocket expenses

Medicare Supplement Plan B

Not to be mistaken with Medicare Part B, this plan covers the same costs as Plan A, as well as hospital deductibles associated with Medicare Part A.

What coverage does Medicare Plan B offer?

  • Standardized, basic benefits
  • Part A hospital deductibles

Medicare Plan B does not cover:

  • Excess charges (charges higher than the amount Medicare approves for specific services)
  • Coinsurance or copay for skilled nursing care

Unless you were eligible for Medicare on or before January 1, 2020, you won’t be able to get Plan F.

Medicare Supplement Plan C

Plan C covers the majority of expenses not covered by Original Medicare, and it is among the more popular of plans. Note that Plan C is not the same as Medicare Part C.

Looking for Medicare Supplement plans in 2020? Unfortunately, Plan C is one of the two plans that will be going away for new enrollees in 2020. If you are already enrolled in Plan C, you will not be kicked off your plan. If you were eligible for Medicare Part A before 2020, you will also still have the option to enroll in Plan C later.

What coverage does Medicare Plan C offer?

  • Standardized, basic benefits
  • Part A hospital deductions
  • Part B services including coinsurance up to a certain percent, and copays associated with visits to the doctor
  • Medicare Part B deductibles up to a set amount
  • Out-of-country travel emergencies within a set limit
  • Copays or coinsurance for skilled nursing facilities or hospice

Medicare Plan C does not cover:

  • Excess charges

Medicare Supplement Plan D

Plan D covers the majority of what Medicare doesn’t, except Part B excess charges and the Part B deductible. Medicare Plan D can best be compared to other benefit-heavy plans, such as Plans D, F and G. Plan D should not be confused with Medicare Part D.

What coverage does Medicare Plan D offer?

  • Standardized, basic benefits
  • Part A hospital deductions
  • Part B services including coinsurance up to a certain percent, as well as copays associated with visits to the doctor
  • Out-of-country travel emergencies within a set limit
  • Copays or coinsurance for skilled nursing facilities or hospice

Medicare Plan D does not cover:

  • Medicare Part B deductibles and excess charges

Medicare Supplement Plan F

Plan F is the most popular plan because it covers all of the costs Medicare does not. Starting in 2020, Plan F, like Plan C, will no longer be available to new beneficiaries.

If you are already enrolled in Plan F, you will not be kicked off your plan. Also, if you were eligible for Medicare Part A before 2020, you will still have the option to enroll in Plan F later.

What coverage does Medicare Plan F offer?

  • Standardized, basic benefits
  • Part A hospital deductions
  • Part B services including coinsurance up to a certain percent, as well as copays associated with visits to the doctor
  • Part B deductibles up to a set amount
  • Out-of-country travel emergencies within a set limit
  • Copays or coinsurance for skilled nursing facilities or hospice
  • Excess charges

Medicare Supplement Plan G

Plan G covers all additional expenses Medicare does not, except for the deductible paid by Part B beneficiaries.

What coverage does Medicare Plan G offer?

  • Standardized, basic benefits
  • Part A hospital deductions
  • Part B services including coinsurance up to a certain percent, as well as copays associated with visits to the doctor
  • Out-of-country travel emergencies within a set limit
  • Copays or coinsurance for skilled nursing facilities or hospice
  • Excess charges

Medicare Supplement Plan K

Plan K is one of two less popular plans (including Plan L) that cover a percentage of certain benefits.

What coverage does Medicare Plan K offer?

  • All Medicare part A costs associated with hospital coinsurance costs including an added 365 days after Medicare benefits have been exhausted
  • Out-of-country costs up to a set limit
  • Preventative care coinsurance associated with Medicare Part B

Costs 50% covered by Plan K:

  • Medicare Part A deductible costs
  • Part A copay or coinsurance costs related to hospice care
  • Coinsurance for skilled nursing facility care
  • Part B copay or coinsurance costs
  • The initial 3 pints of blood used during a medical procedure

Medicare Plan K does not cover:

  • Excessive charges associated with Part B
  • Deductibles associated with Part B

Medicare Supplement Plan L

Plan L, like Plan K, covers a certain amount of the cost of specific benefits.

What coverage does Medicare Plan L offer?

  • Hospital and coinsurance costs associated with Part A, as well as an added 365 days following the exhaustion of Medicare benefits

Costs 75% covered by Plan L:

  • Part B coinsurance costs
  • Medicare Part A deductible costs
  • Medicare Part A Hospice care coinsurance costs
  • Coinsurance for skilled nursing facility care
  • First 3 pints of blood used during a medical procedure

Medicare Supplement Plan M

Plan M is different from Plans L and K in that it fully covers more out-of-pocket costs. It is similar because it also covers a percentage of one expense.

What coverage does Medicare Plan M offer?

  • Standardized, basic benefits
  • Skilled nursing facility coinsurance
  • 50% of deductibles associated with Medicare Part A

Medicare Plan M does not cover:

  • Deductibles associated with Medicare Part B
  • Excess charges

Medicare Supplement Plan N

The popularity of Plan N has risen so far in 2020 and is expected to become even more popular. The popularity of this plan is in part due to low monthly premiums and sought-after benefits.

What coverage does Medicare Plan N offer?

  • Standardized, basic benefits, with the exception of requiring a $50 copay for inpatient stays and a $20 copay when visiting the doctor
  • Skilled nursing facility coinsurance costs
  • Hospice care copays or coinsurance
  • Out-of-country benefits
  • 100% of preventative care costs

Medicare Plan N does not cover:

  • Part B deductibles
  • Excess charges

Unless you were eligible for Medicare on or before January 1, 2020, you won’t be able to get Plan F.

How Much Do Medicare Supplement Plans Cost?

The cost of Medicare supplemental insurance can vary. What you will pay in monthly premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses depend on many factors, including location, plan rating, what insurance company the plan is offered through, as well as what costs are covered by the plan.

Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan Average Monthly Premium

A

$192.33

B

$141.24

C

$189.88

D

$157.33

F

$169.14

High deductible F

$57.16

G

$122.78

J*

$160.07

M

$218.75

N

$111.28

All Plans

$152.00

*Medigap Plan J was discontinued for new enrollees in 2010. Only beneficiaries who enrolled in the plan prior to that time may be currently enrolled in Plan J.

Chart courtesy of www.medicareadvantage.com

Medicare Supplement plans can help reduce your out-of-pocket expenses and keep your health care coverage affordable. It’s important for you to study all of the plans available to you and to research the insurance company selling those plans so you can make the best decision for your health and wallet.