UPDATE: The content of this article was updated from the “Top 5 Medicare Supplement Plans” to the “Top 4 Medicare Supplement Plans” to reflect changes in plan offerings following Jan. 1, 2020.
Choosing the right Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan for you may help ease the stress of dealing with health care in retirement. When you turn 65, you become eligible for Original Medicare and Medigap – another name for Medicare Supplement Insurance. Knowing the top 4 Medicare Supplement Plans & based on your specific needs will help you determine your options.
Every beneficiary has a different set of needs, so we’ve narrowed down the top 4 Medicare Supplement plans based on varying health care situations. That way, you can decide which one will work best for you.
There are 10 Medicap policies available with standardized benefits, however not all plans are available to all Medicare Supplement enrollees or in specific states. Medicare Supplement Plan C and Plan F are only available for those who were eligible for Medicare before Jan. 1, 2020. Also, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin have their own state-specific standardized plans.
Keep in mind there’s no “right” Medigap Plan or one-size-fits-all option. It all comes down to personal preference and specific health care needs. We’re basing our recommendations on the plans beneficiaries are most likely to choose.
1. Best Alternative to Plan F: Medicare Supplement Plan G
Prior to being discontinued for new enrollees, Medicare Supplement Plan F was one of the most popular Medigap plans because of its comprehensive level of coverage. Plan F is still available to those who were eligible for Medicare prior to Jan. 1, 2020; however, even if you are eligible for both Plan F and Plan G, you may find Medicare Supplement Plan G as a better fit.
Plan G is very similar to Plan F. It’s one of the top 4 Medicare Supplement Plans because it offers everything Plan F offers except eliminating the Original Medicare Part B deductible.
The Part B deductible, as of the 2021 plan year, is $203[i]. When you compare Medicare Supplement Plan G with other plans, such as Plan F, make sure you look carefully at the monthly premiums. You may find that you’ll save considerably more money with Plan G because you don’t have any other out-of-pocket costs once you hit your deductible.
This is why we recommend Plan G over Plan F if you’re interested in the most comprehensive Medigap Plans. When you get Medigap quotes, you may likely see that the savings in premiums far outweigh the Original Medicare Part B deductible.
2. Plan G Runner-Up for New Enrollees: Medicare Supplement Plan N
The second of our top 4 Medicare Supplement Plans is Medigap Plan N. It might seem identical to Plan G, however, there are some slight differences.
On the plus side, Plan N is available with monthly premiums that cost less than Plan G so it’s a great alternative if you want a comprehensive Medigap plan without paying higher premiums. However, there is one small – but potentially expensive – caveat.
You’ll notice in the chart above that there’s an asterisk under Medigap Plan N for Medicare Part B coinsurance and copayment. This is because Medigap Plan N covers the coinsurance payment, which is any percentage of a doctor’s fee for which you would otherwise be responsible, but it doesn’t cover the copayment.
A copayment is a fixed fee you pay to a provider at the time of service.
Under Medigap Plan N, your copayments are limited to $20 or less for some office visits and $50 or less for emergency room visits. Plan N also doesn’t cover your Part B excess charges, which is a fee you pay if your health care provider charges more than what Medicare will pay for that type of service.[ii]
So, if you’re looking for a Medigap Plan with a lower monthly premium and a vast level of coverage, but don’t mind paying the difference for certain benefits, then Medicare Supplement Plan N may be the plan for you.
3. Plan G Runner-Up for Pre-2020 Enrollees: Medicare Supplement Plan C
Medicare Supplement Plan C is one of two plans that are only available for people who were eligible for Medicare prior to Jan. 1, 2020. One of the benefits of Plan C is that it has a comprehensive coverage that also includes covering your Original Medicare Part B deductible and you’re not worried about Part B excess charges.[iii]
Excess charges occur when your doctor charges more than Original Medicare pays for those services. In that case, you become responsible for the difference. If you don’t want to be responsible for covering out-of-pocket charges related to visits with physicians or hospital outpatient services, you may want to choose a Medicare plan that covers excess charges. Alternatively, if the excess is minimal, you can weigh the differences in premium between Medigap Plan C against other plans to determine which one will save you the most money.
We count Medicare Supplement Plan C among the top 4 Medicare Supplement Plans because it covers 100 percent of several categories of coverage, including Original Medicare Parts A and B deductibles. If you travel internationally, you can also rely on this plan to cover 80 percent of the charges you incur from foreign emergency healthcare services.
If you ever have to go to a skilled nursing facility, Medigap Plan C will cover 100 percent of your coinsurance payments. Additionally, it covers your Original Medicare Part B coinsurance or copayment.
4. Best Plan C Alternative: Medicare Supplement Plan D
The fourth our top 4 Medicare Supplement Plans is Medigap Plan D. It’s very similar to Medigap Plan C, except that it doesn’t cover Original Medicare Part B excess charges or the deductible.
As of the 2021 plan year, the Original Medicare Part B deductible will cost you $203 out-of-pocket every year.[iv] When you meet the deductible, Medicare will take care of the rest.
When choosing from the top 4 Medicare Supplement Plans for your specific needs, consider out-of-pocket costs as well as upfront expenses. For instance, if you can save more than $203 on your annual premium with a different plan, you might be better off with it. However, if the difference in premiums is less than $203, you might want to consider Medigap Plan D.
Choosing the right Medigap Plan for you may seem confusing, which is why we’ve shared our picks for the top 4 Medicare Supplement Plans based on common consumer preferences. Medicare Supplement Plan G might be ideal if you want full coverage, while Medicare Supplement Plan N may offer a better option if you want to save money on your monthly premium.
Consider Medigap Plan C if you don’t mind paying excess charges. Plan D might be more appropriate if you’d like to avoid paying the Original Medicare Part B deductible, and Plan N is ideal if you’re comfortable paying Part B copayments.
To compare plans and premiums, Ensurem is ready to help by offering free, no-obligation consultations with licensed insurance agents. Plus, you can use Ensurem’s online Medigap Quoter. It’s an easy way to look at plans side by side and make the best decision for you.
[i] “Medicare Costs at a Glance,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, https://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/medicare-costs-at-a-glance
[ii] “Medicare Supplement Plan N,” Healthline, Nov. 14, 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/medicare/medicare-plan-n
[iii] “Did Medigap Plan C Go Away in 2020?,” Healthline, May 21, 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/medicare/is-medigap-plan-c-going-away
[iv] “Part B Costs,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, https://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/part-b-costs