How to Pick the Best Medicare Supplement Plan in Five Simple Steps
Summary: In a nutshell, here are some tips for choosing the best Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan for your needs.
- Understand your coverage needs and budget
- Sign up during the Medigap Open Enrollment Period
- Explore any potential discounts
- Know when you may have guaranteed-issue rights
A common question people ask is, “What is the best Medicare Supplement plan?” The truth is that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to Medicare Supplement insurance – it depends on your needs and budget. Here are five steps to help you find the best Medicare Supplement plan for your situation.
Pick the best Medicare Supplement plan based on your coverage needs.
As you’re thinking about the best Medicare Supplement plan for your needs, deciding on the level of coverage you want is a good place to start.
Medicare Supplement plans may help with some out-of-pocket costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, including copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. There are 10 plan types available in most states, and basic benefits are the same across each lettered plan type (labeled A through N). For example, Plan N will have the same basic benefits no matter where you buy it.
As you research the best Medicare Supplement plan for your coverage needs, here are some questions to consider:
- Do I want basic coverage, or more coverage?
- Is there a specific out-of-pocket cost I want help with (copayments, coinsurance, deductible)?
- Do I want help with Part B excess charges for when I visit doctors who don’t accept Medicare payment terms (assignment)?
- Do I travel outside of the country often and want overseas coverage?
- Do I want a high-deductible plan?
If you’re looking for minimal coverage, the best Medicare Supplement plan to consider might be Plan A, which offers the most basic level of coverage. If you prefer more coverage, Plans F* and G cover nearly all of the available benefits. Plans K and L may be the best Medicare Supplement plans for those want a yearly out-of-pocket cap on their Medicare costs. And, for those interested in overseas coverage when traveling, the best Medicare Supplement plans to consider might be Plans C*, D, F*, G, M, or N.
*Medicare Supplement Plans C and F may not be available to you if you become eligible for Medicare on January 1, 2020 or later.
This Medicare Supplement plan benefits chart may be helpful as you’re comparing coverage side by side. Once you’ve narrowed down the specific benefits you’re interested in, the chart makes it easy to find the plan that lines up with the coverage you want – the best Medicare Supplement plan for you.
Find the best Medicare Supplement plan for your budget.
To find the best Medicare Supplement plan for your budget, it’s important to understand how these plans are priced. Medicare Supplement plans typically come with a monthly premium. However, insurance companies that sell Medicare Supplement coverage may price their plans differently.
As you’re deciding on the best Medicare Supplement plan for your financial situation, keep in mind that insurance companies may use three types of premium-pricing methods:
- Issue-age rated: premiums are based on your age when you enroll and don’t go up as you get older.
- Community-rated: all plan members pay the same premium, regardless of their age.
- Attained-age rated: premiums are based on your current age, so your premium costs rise as you get older.
Please note that premiums may go up because of inflation, regardless of the pricing method.
Sign up during your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period.
Of course, there is no one plan that is the “best” Medicare Supplement plan. However, if you want to have the most options, it’s a good idea to sign up during your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. This is the six-month period that starts the first month you’re 65 or over, and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
During this time frame, you’ll have the best Medicare Supplement plan availability because:
- You have “guaranteed-issue rights,” meaning you can’t be turned down for coverage.
- You can’t be charged higher premiums because of pre-existing conditions.
- Insurance companies can’t require medical underwriting.
Once this period is over, the insurance company can refuse to sell you a plan, charge you more if you have medical problems, or require medical underwriting. The best Medicare Supplement plan prices may not be available to you if you have health issues.
Find out if the insurance companies offers discounts.
As you can tell, many things can affect the cost of Medicare Supplement insurance. One way to try to get the best Medicare Supplement plan pricing is to ask if the insurance company offers discounts.
Know when you have guaranteed-issue rights.
You typically have guaranteed-issue rights during your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. This is your one-time chance to have the best Medicare Supplement plan availability.
However, after that period, you may be able to get Medicare Supplement insurance with guaranteed issue in a few limited situations, like if you disenrolled from your Medicare Supplement plan to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time, then changed your mind within a year.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what to consider as you find the best Medicare Supplement plan for your needs, budget, and preferences. Want to get started now? Take a look at plan options in your area by entering your zip code into the plan finder tool on this page.
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