Best Medicare Supplement Insurance

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Contributor, Benzinga
Updated: July 20, 2022
verified by Jesse Slome

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While some retirees believe that Medicare will cover all of their medical expenses, this is unfortunately not the truth. However, you do have options you can use to lower the out-of-pocket costs associated with the Original Medicare coverages. Medicare supplemental insurance — sometimes referred to as a Medigap policy — is an optional policy you can purchase to help you pay for your out-of-pocket Medicare expenses. 

Quick Look: Best Medicare Supplement Insurance

Best Medicare Supplemental Insurance Companies

Comparing multiple plans side-by-side is the best way to be sure you're getting the best price. The following brokers and comparison platforms can help you find the right Medicare Supplement plan for you.

1. Cigna

In addition to offering some of the most popular Medigap policy options, Cigna (NYSE: CI) also offers policyholders access to a 24/7 advice line staffed by trained nurses. This feature can help save you both time and money if you aren’t sure whether you need to seek emergency care after an illness or accident. Cigna also offers competitive pricing and plans in most parts of the country. 

Cigna’s supplement policies don’t sacrifice quality for low prices; the company offers policies that complement Medicare Parts A, B, and D (prescription drug coverage), as well as a few other less common Medicare benefit plans.

Cigna’s policies are also guaranteed renewable for life except under extenuating circumstances — so you won’t have to worry about suddenly being dropped from your plan. With wide availability and affordable rates, Cigna is a great supplemental insurance choice for those who qualify for Medicare.  

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2. Humana

Humana is a rock-solid supplemental insurance provider that offers plans throughout the country. Humana offers supplementary policies for nine out of 10 Medicare plans and some of Humana’s plans also offer international coverage as well.  

Humana’s easy-to-use search function will introduce you to plan options in your state just by entering a zip code, and in most states, you also have the option to meet up with a local agent to discuss your plan options and sign on without making a commitment online.

Humana’s website is a great tool if you’re just beginning your search for a Medigap plan, as its pages are packed with information and tools that you can use to learn more about the differences between Medicare plans as well as estimate how much you’ll pay and how you can lower your premium.

Humana also allows policyholders to chat with a nurse over the phone and around the clock if you’re concerned about some facet of your health but aren’t sure if you should see a specialist or go to the emergency room.

If you’re overwhelmed with supplemental plan options and you’d like to learn more about Medicare itself before you begin thinking about which plan is right for you, Humana’s comprehensive site and human-assisted planning is a great choice to get started.  

3. Aetna

Aetna’s Medicare supplement coverage options are somewhat limited when it comes to signing on. You cannot apply for coverage online; instead, you’ll need to call or see an in-person representative.

Aetna’s plan offerings are also little less expansive than some competitors, with choices to supplement five out of the 10 Medicare plans. If you want to cancel your plan with Aetna, you’ll also have to write a letter, which is an unusual restriction that may make it more difficult to cancel your coverage if you want to switch plans.

However, Aetna’s plans also cover more than many competitors, with 100% coverage for most costs on Medicare Plan A & B and even up to 80% coverage for travel emergencies. Many of Aetna’s plans also cover skilled nursing expenses, which is usually excluded from standard Medicare supplement plans. If you’re a big international traveler, Aetna’s plans might save you money in the long-term by helping protect you against high emergency bills abroad.

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4. Mutual Of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha, available everywhere but MA, is a solid choice for Medicare Supplement plans. Mutual of Omaha has several types of Medicare plans to choose from. Each plan provides a standard amount of coverage, with premiums varying from person to person based on several factors such as age and geography.

As with other Medicare Supplement Providers, Mutual of Omaha allows you to see any doctor nationwide that accepts Medicare. Not only can you see the doctor of your choice while you are home, you also won’t have a problem finding a doctor if you get sick while traveling anywhere within the US. In addition, Mutual also provides emergency care globally. This can be very useful for frequent travelers although there is a cap of $50,000 in a lifetime for this coverage.

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5. CoverRight

CoverRight’s free-to-use platform and friendly, licensed agents make it easy for Medicare-eligible people to compare, select and enroll in the right Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan. Your agent will never try to upsell you on products you don't need and will recommend the plans most suited to your unique situation.

CoverRight prides itself on being customer-first, leveraging technology to streamline the Medicare selection process while retaining the human touch of one-on-one assistance from their agents. They're partnered with the top rated insurance companies in the nation, so you can search with confidence.

Get started with CoverRight today. Get a quote in under 2 minutes and see instant personalized recommendations from hundreds of plans.

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    Only available to consumers in the following US states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington (State), West Virginia.

6. easyMedicare

Working with providers like Anthem, Humana and Cigna, easyMedicare can make it easier to compare coverage in your area. Get a free consultation with a licensed Medicare insurance agent.

You can also sort by lowest premiums and providers and explore coverage without entering a ton of personal information. easyMedicare offers a ton of useful Medicare information on their site, too.

Medicare selection can be one of the more taxing issues that come with aging into retirement.  The average Medicare-eligible person has 40+ options to choose from, and navigating Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans is made more confusion by the heavy use of jargon.

Take a look at these companies and get quotes from multiple carriers to get the best premium for your needs.

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What is Medicare Supplemental Insurance?

Medicare supplemental insurance is an optional add-on coverage you can use to fill in some of the payment gaps left by Original Medicare coverage. For this reason, Medicare supplemental insurance options are typically referred to as Medigap coverage. Some examples of coverages that may be included in a Medigap plan include copayments, deductibles and healthcare if you are injured while traveling outside of the United States. 

Medicare Supplement Enrollment

In general, you can enroll for a Medicare Supplement plan at any time of the year. However, to avoid filling out extra forms or answering extra medical questions, your best bet is to sign up for a Medigap plan when you're signing up for your Medicare Advantage plan

Do I Need a Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plan?

It depends on your coverage. Medicare supplemental insurance plans are standardized insurance add-ons regulated by the federal government and issued through private insurance companies. Individual insurance companies set their own premiums for each Medigap option they offer. Medicare supplemental insurance options are labeled with letters A through L.

Each plan includes a list of benefits that every insurance company must offer. That means that no matter which company you purchase your Medigap policy from, you will always have the same coverages and inclusions. This is true for all Medicare enrollees except those who live in Massachusetts, Minnesota or Wisconsin because coverages in these states vary from the standard list of inclusions.

Take a look at what’s covered under each Medicare supplemental plan that you can currently purchase.

What is Medicare Supplement Plan A?

Plan A includes the following benefits:

  • Coverage for Original Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital expenses
  • Coverage for Original Medicare Part B copays and coinsurance
  • Part A hospice care
  • Blood (first 3 pints)

What is Medicare Supplement Plan B?

Plan B includes the following benefits:

  • Coverage for Original Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital expenses
  • Coverage for Original Medicare Part B copays and coinsurance
  • Part A hospice care
  • Blood (first 3 pints)
  • Coverage for Part A deductible

What is Medicare Supplement Plan D?

Plan D includes the following benefits:

  • Coverage for Original Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital expenses
  • Coverage for Original Medicare Part B copays and coinsurance
  • Part A hospice care
  • Blood (first 3 pints)
  • Coverage for Part A deductible
  • Skilled nursing facility care
  • 80% coverage for emergency travel healthcare needs

What is Medicare Supplement Plan G?

Plan G includes the following benefits:

  • Coverage for Original Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital expenses
  • Coverage for Original Medicare Part B copays and coinsurance
  • Part A hospice care
  • Blood (first 3 pints)
  • Coverage for Part A deductible
  • Skilled nursing facility care
  • 80% coverage for emergency travel healthcare needs
  • Part B excess charges

What is Medicare Supplement Plan K?

Plan K includes the following benefits:

  • Coverage for Original Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital expenses
  • 50% coverage for Original Medicare Part B copays and coinsurance
  • 50% coverage for blood (first 3 pints)
  • 50% coverage for Part A hospice care
  • 50% coverage for skilled nursing facility care
  • 50% coverage for Part A deductible

Plan K includes an out-of-pocket maximum of $5,880.

What is Medicare Supplement Plan L?

Plan L includes the following benefits:

  • Coverage for Original Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital expenses
  • 75% coverage for Original Medicare Part B copays and coinsurance
  • 75% coverage for blood (first 3 pints)
  • 75% coverage for Part A hospice care
  • 75% coverage for skilled nursing facility care
  • 75% coverage for Part A deductible

Plan L includes an out-of-pocket maximum of $2,940.

What is Medicare Supplement Plan M?

Plan M includes the following benefits:

  • 100% of Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to 365 after Medicare is exhausted
  • 50% of Part A deductible
  • 100% of Part A hospice care coinsurance or copay
  • 100% of first 3 pints of blood
  • 100% of skilled nursing care coinsurance
  • 100% of Part B coinsurance or copay
  • Foreign travel medical fees

Plan M includes no out-of-pocket maximum.

What is Medicare supplement Plan N?

Plan N includes the following benefits:

  • 100% of inpatient deductible
  • 100% of inpatient copays and coinsurance minus an initial $50 copay
  • 100% of doctor’s visits minus a $20 copay
  • Foreign travel medical expenses
  • 100% of urgent care copays
  • 100% of emergency room costs minus a $50 copay

Plan N includes no out-of-pocket maximum.

Recent Changes to Medicare Supplements

Previously, you were able to purchase options that covered your Part B deductible, labeled Plan C and Plan F. As of January 2020, health insurance providers can no longer sell Medigap policies that cover your Part B deductible. This means that if you enrolled in Medicare after January 2020, you cannot purchase Plan C or Plan F coverage.

Medicare supplemental insurance won’t cover every cost associated with your medical and care needs. Some examples of things that aren’t covered under Medicare supplemental insurance include:

  • Long-term care
  • Vision-care needs and eyeglasses
  • Dental care
  • Hearing aids
  • Private-duty nursing
  • Prescription drugs (explore Medicare Part D if you need prescription drug coverage)

You can only purchase Medicare supplemental insurance if you are enrolled in Original Medicare. It is against the law for a company to sell you a Medigap policy if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan unless you are in the process of dropping your Medicare Advantage coverage and switching back to Original Medicare Part A and Part B. 

Individual states may limit the types of Medicare supplement policies that may be sold, and not every plan will be available in every state. Before you invest in a policy, check with your state’s insurance department to ensure that the company is legally allowed to operate and issue plans where you live. Other characteristics of a great plan include:

  • International coverage. One of the major benefits of maintaining a Medicare supplement plan is that these plans are allowed to provide benefits and coverage types that are not offered by Medicare Parts A and B. If you frequently travel outside of the country for vacation or to visit members of your family living abroad, choosing a Medigap policy with coverage for international hospital stays and emergency medical treatment is a smart idea.
  • Affordable premiums. The purpose of a Medicare supplement plan is to help you cover some of the costs that aren’t included in your Medicare plan. Choose a plan with a low and reasonable premium to help you save more money and ensure that your health is covered.

What is the Average Cost for Supplemental Insurance for Medicare?

Because every Medigap plan must include a set list of benefits, comparing Medicare supplemental insurance and finding out the cost is significantly easier than shopping for most other types of insurance. Here are a few factors you might want to consider when you select a plan provider.

  • Premiums: Insurance companies each charge their own premiums, which they can set themselves. Comparing a select plan with multiple providers can help you quickly narrow down your most affordable option.
  • Customer service: If you’re new to Medicare, it may give you peace of mind to know that a helpful customer service team is standing by. Look for insurance providers that offer live assistance that works for you.
  • Ease of use: Your Medigap plan provider shouldn’t make you jump through hoops to learn about your coverage. Look for a plan provider with an online portal or website that’s easy for you to use and understand.

How to Buy Medicare Supplement Insurance

Buying a Medigap policy is a straightforward process. Though the specific steps you’ll take may vary by insurance provider, here are the basic steps you should expect to go through when purchasing a policy:

  • Compare each Medigap plan option available to you and consider which set of benefits best fits your needs.
  • After you know which plan you’re interested in, find a company licensed to offer this coverage in your state.
  • When you find a plan from a company you want to work with, complete your application.

Insurance companies are required to provide you with a clear and easy-to-understand statement of your benefits before you buy a Medigap policy. Be sure to read it thoroughly so you understand what is and isn’t covered with your plan. If you have questions, contact an insurance agent to ask questions before you agree to a policy. 

When Can I Buy Medicare Supplemental Insurance?

Remember, the best time to purchase a Medigap policy is during the 6-month open enrollment period, which begins the day you have Medicare Part B insurance if you’re 65 or older. During open enrollment, you can purchase any Medigap policy in your state, regardless of health problems. If you wait until this period closes, you may not be able to buy a Medicare supplemental insurance plan. This makes it especially smart to start comparing your options and getting quotes from Benzinga’s recommended providers early so you don’t miss your enrollment window. 

Final Thoughts on Supplemental Medicare

Medicare can be confusing — and understanding exactly what type of supplemental coverage you need can be even more frustrating and time-consuming. However, like most other types of insurance, the best way to make sure that you’re getting the best rate possible is to request as many quotes as you can.

Every health insurance company uses its own unique formula to determine how much you’ll pay in monthly premiums, so it’s possible to get five totally different quotes from five different insurance companies.

Don’t be afraid to shop around for coverage and ask any agents you speak to how you can lower your premium — health insurance providers have a hefty financial incentive to sign on qualified users, so there’s usually a few discounts that can be found for you if you’re debating between two providers.

A valuable resource for consumers is the Medicare Insurance agency directory hosted by the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance. Use it to find local Medicare insurance agents in your area. Access is completely free and also private.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q
Can I change my Medicare Supplement plan?
A

You can change your Medicare Supplement plan at any time. The majority of states will require a medical exam before you do.

Q
What are Medicare Supplement plans?
A

Medicare supplement plans are private insurance plans that pay for the expenses not covered by Medicare, such as deductibles, copayments and coinsurance.

Q
At what age can you get Medicare supplemental insurance?
A

You can buy a Medigap or medicare supplement policy when you are 65 years of age and enrolled in Medicare Part B coverage. 

 

Q
What is the difference between Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement Insurance?
A

Medicare Advantage plan replaces Original Medicare, while a Medicare Supplement plan works in addition to Medicare Part A and Part B coverage.