How to Compare Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans

Read our Advertiser Disclosure.
Contributor, Benzinga
July 31, 2023

Get free guidance and find a Medicare Supplement plan with CoverRight right now.

When it comes to Medicare coverage, around 14 million individuals opt for Medicare Supplement insurance plans, also known as Medigap plans, to fill the gaps in their healthcare expenses. 

However, with several options available, it's crucial to compare Medicare Supplement plans to find the one that best suits your needs. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of comparing Medicare Supplement insurance plans, empowering you to make an informed decision about your healthcare coverage.

Understanding Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans

Before diving into the comparison process, it's important to understand what Medicare Supplement insurance plans are and how they work. Familiarize yourself with the standardized plan types, the benefits they offer, and how they complement Original Medicare coverage.

Medicare Supplement insurance is NOT the same as a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan.  While Medicare Advantage plans are considered an ‘alternate’ to receive your Medicare to Original Medicare, Medicare Supplement plans work alongside Original Medicare.

There are 10 standardized plans in most states. In MassachusettsMinnesota, and Wisconsin, Medigap policies are standardized in a different way.

In terms of popularity, Plans G and N made up over 77% of the lives issued between 2020 and 2021 based on a recent study by Telos Actuarial.  Plan F and C are no longer available to newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries who turned 65 including and after 2020.

medicare supplement plans from coverright

Assessing Your Healthcare Needs

Start by assessing your healthcare needs to determine the level of coverage you require. Consider factors such as:

  • Current Medical Conditions: Evaluate your existing medical conditions and the potential future healthcare needs based on your medical history.
  • Anticipated Healthcare Expenses: Consider the type and frequency of medical services you typically need or expect to require in the near future.
  • Budget: Determine your budget for healthcare expenses, including monthly premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs.

Comparing Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans

When comparing Medicare Supplement insurance plans, focus on the following key aspects:

  • Plan Types: Understand the different plan types available (such as Plan G, Plan N, Plan F, etc.) and the specific benefits they offer. Each plan type provides a standardized set of benefits, allowing for easier comparison.
  • Cost Considerations: Compare the costs associated with each plan, including monthly premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses. Consider how the costs align with your budget and anticipated healthcare needs.
  • Provider Network: Unlike Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplement plans do not have provider networks. You can see any doctor or specialist who accepts Medicare patients.
  • Additional Benefits: Most Medicare Supplement plans do not provide additional benefits. You may be able to add these as “riders” for an additional cost but in most cases you should budget to purchase these separately.

Researching Plan Providers and Ratings

Consider the following factors when researching plan providers and their ratings:

  • Insurance Companies: Research the insurance companies that offer Medicare Supplement plans. Look for companies with a good reputation, strong financial stability, and a history of providing excellent customer service.
  • Plan Ratings: Check the plan ratings provided by independent rating agencies, such as A.M. Best or Standard & Poor's. Higher ratings indicate better overall performance and customer satisfaction.

Seek Expert Assistance

If you require assistance or have specific questions, we recommend you reach out to licensed experts and Medicare consultants that specializes in Medicare.  

This will be more important for Medicare Supplement plans are not provide subsidizes or funded by the federal government and each Medicare Supplement insurance carrier may have its own criteria in order to accept you into a plan.

In addition, you can consider the following resources:

  • The official Medicare website (medicare.gov)
  • State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP) offering free counseling services

Apply and Enroll 

Once you have chosen a Medigap plan that suits your needs, you can apply for the insurance. Contact your Medicare broker and/or the insurance company offering the plan you have selected and request an application form. Fill out the application accurately and provide all the necessary information.

Be aware that unlike the Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplement plans may require you to go through underwriting, which involves a review of your medical history and may result in the insurer accepting or denying your application or charging you a higher premium based on your health condition.

The only exception in most states is if you have a Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period (OEP), which:

  • Lasts for 6 months and begins when you are both 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B, you have a guaranteed issue right and can enroll in a Medigap plan without undergoing underwriting, regardless of your health condition
  • This is the best time to apply for a Medigap plan as you won't be subject to medical underwriting

Remember to carefully review the terms and conditions of the Medigap policy before submitting your application. If you have any questions or need assistance, reach out to the insurance company or consider consulting a Medicare insurance agent who can guide you through the application process and help you make an informed decision.

Conclusion

Comparing Medicare Supplement insurance plans is essential for finding the one that best meets your healthcare needs and budget. By understanding the plans, assessing your healthcare needs, comparing coverage and benefits, researching plan providers, and seeking expert assistance when needed, you can make a well-informed decision that provides the right coverage and peace of mind for your healthcare journey.

About RIchard Chan

Medicare, health insurance, life insurance, consumer lending, capital markets, macroeconomics, mergers and acquisitions.