Medicare Supplement Plan

How to Choose Medicare Supplement Plan

With 10 standardized plans available, choosing the Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan is a challenge. (If you live in Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin you have different standardized Medicare Supplement plans you can buy.) Here are a few tips to help you determine which plan is right for you.
Medicare Supplements Plans
First, it helps to know your alphabet. Medicare Supplement plans come in packages labeled as letters A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N.

Plan F is the most popular, followed by Plan C because these offer the most comprehensive coverage. The newest options, Plan M and Plan N, are cost sharing plans that have lower premiums, and are popular among healthier seniors who don't use as much health care.

This chart lists the coverage benefits of each Medigap plan.

Medicare Benefits Medicare Plans
A B C D F* G K L M N
Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to an additional 365 days after Medicare benefits are used up 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Part B coinsurance or copayment 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 50% 75% 100% 100%***
Blood (first 3 pints) 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 50% 75% 100% 100%
Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 50% 75% 100% 100%
Skilled nursing facility care coinsurance 0% 0% 100% 100% 100% 100% 50% 75% 100% 100%
Part A deductible 0% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 50% 75% 50% 100%
Part B deductible 0% 0% 100% 0% Yes 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Part B excess charges 0% 0% 0% 0% 100% 100% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Foreign travel exchange (up to plan limits) 0% 0% 100% 100% 100% 100% 0% 0% 100% 100%
Out-of-pocket limit** N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A $4,940 $2,470 N/A N/A

*Plan F also offers a high deductible plan. If you choose this option, you must pay for Medicare-covered costs up to $2,140 in 2014 before your Medigap plan pays anything

**After you meet your out-of-pocket yearly limit and your yearly Part B deductible, the Medigap plan pays 100% of covered services for the rest of the calendar year.

*** Plan N pays 100% of the Part B coinsurance, except for a copayment of up to $20 for some office visits and up to a $50 copayment for emergency room visits that don't result in inpatient admission.

How to Choose
You'll want to consider your health status, your family medical history, and your budget. All Medigap policies with the same letter must offer the same coverage but prices vary, so you'll want to compare quotes from different companies.

You'll get the lowest price if you sign up within six months after enrolling in Medicare Part B. During this open-enrollment period an insurer cannot refuse to sell you a policy or charge you more due to your health.

Also, be aware of the pricing methods that will affect your costs. Medigap policies are sold as one of three ways:
  • Attained Age policies, which have premiums that start low but increase as you get older
  • Issue Age policies, which increase in price due to inflation, not age. These may start out more expensive, but have fewer rate increases over time.
  • Community Issue policies, which charge everyone in an area the same premium regardless of age.
Issue Age and Community Issue policies usually save you money in the long run.

Medicare Supplement
Medicare Advantage

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