There are many Medigap Plans to choose from, but what’s the best Medicare Supplement Plan? Many of our clients are interested in supplementing their Medicare with either a Medigap plan or a Medicare Advantage plan. Dependent upon your needs and your area, one may be better for you.
What are Medigap Plans?
Original Medicare consists of Medicare Part A, your hospital insurance, and Medicare Part B, your outpatient insurance. Although Original Medicare provides excellent coverage, there are definitely some gaps. Additionally, there is no out of pocket max. Also, although Medicare usually covers about 80% of the costs, that 20% that you’re left with can really add up.
So, Medicare Supplement Plans (also known as Medigap Plans) are designed to limit your out of pocket costs and cover the gaps of Original Medicare. There are many different plans to choose from. Although they are offered by private carriers at different prices, they are standardized. So, the benefits are the same regardless of the carrier. Additionally, if your doctor accepts Medicare, they accept your Medicare Supplement Plan, regardless of your insurance company. You just need to choose a carrier with a history or low, stable rate increases because the prices do tend to go up on a yearly basis to accommodate for inflation and rising healthcare costs.
Comparing Medigap Plans
You can choose from Medicare Supplement Plans A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M & N. Medicare.gov provides a very comprehensive table breaking down the different Medigap plans available. For new enrollees, Plan G provides the most comprehensive coverage. Plan C & Plan F are no longer being offered to new enrollees. One step down from Plan G are Plan N & Plan D which are very similar except they do not cover Part B excess charges.
Doctors who accept Medicare accept the amount that Medicare pays for a given service. However, doctors may choose to charge up to 15% more (Medicare Part B excess charges). If your supplement plan does not cover Part B excess charges, you are responsible for these additional charges. You can avoid these charges by confirming whether your doctor does, in fact, charge in excess of Medicare. Usually, it’s not a problem. However, many Centers of Excellence charge Part B excess charges and those bills can become quite costly.
Plan K is usually one of the least expensive options that still covers your most important needs (Part A Deductible, Skilled Nursing Facility, etc…). It’s very important that you do your research because prices can vary widely dependent upon the plan, carrier, and state. It’s equally important that you have an appropriate level of coverage without overpaying on your premium. Medicare.gov provides a range of prices for each plan available in your area.
How Do I Enroll?
Medicare.gov will show you your available options and then redirect you towards the individual carrier’s available. PLEASE do not go this route! As you’ve seen, the price ranges can be quite wide and unless you plan on contacting each and every carrier, you may end up paying more for the same benefits. It’s really not worth your time and energy. These rates are set and you will not receive any type of discount or incentive by contacting the company directly.
Instead, we recommend that you contact a licensed broker. A broker is a 3rd party who works for you, not the insurance company. They can help you comparison shop all the plans available to find the right plan at the lowest possible rate. Some brokers do charge for their services, but many do not as the commissions are already part of the rate you pay.
Finally, remember, you can enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan year round. However, you are best served to do so during your individual open enrollment period which is the six months after you return 65 and enroll in Medicare Part B. During this time, you will not be subject to medical underwriting.
Call us at iHealthBrokers to discuss which plan is best for you. You can reach us at (888) 918-0518 or schedule a call today. Our services are 100% FREE!
Jesse Smedley is the Principal Broker for iHealthBrokers and the founder, president, and CEO of Smedley Insurance Group, Inc. and iHealthBrokers.com. Since the inception of SIG in 2007, Jesse has been dedicated to helping people save money on their health insurance by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their health insurance options, both under age 65 and Medicare beneficiaries. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for expert columns regarding health insurance and Medicare.