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Tips for Comparing Medicare Supplement Plans

It’s helpful to know what to look for when you compare Medicare Supplement plans. There may be up to 10 different Medicare Supplement plans available where you live. Each standardized plan has its own set of basic benefits, but some plans have overlapping benefits.

Compare Medicare Supplement plans:  common features

Although many insurance companies offer a variety of Medicare Supplement plans, there are two common features you may find particularly appealing.

Access to doctors and hospitals – Typically you can choose your own doctors and hospitals, as long as they accept Medicare assignment. Most Medicare Supplement plans don’t have networks of contracted health-care providers you must use to receive the full benefits of your insurance.

Standardized benefits – Insurance companies are required to provide standardized Medicare Supplement benefits. Most states have up to 10 standardized Medicare Supplement plans, named by letters A – N. In Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, Medicare Supplement plans provide differently standardized benefits. Standardized benefits make Medicare Supplement plans highly portable. This means you can usually keep and use your Medicare Supplement plan when you are traveling outside your home state or even if you move to another state.

Compare Medicare Supplement plans: understand the basic benefits

When you compare Medicare Supplement plans, you’ll see that all standardized plans offer certain basic benefits. These include:

  • Medicare Part A coinsurance for covered hospital costs: Medicare Part A usually covers the first 60 days of a hospital stay after you have met your deductible. After 60 days, you typically have to pay a coinsurance amount. Medicare Supplement plans pay the coinsurance and other covered hospital expenses for an additional 365 days in the hospital if you use up your Medicare Part A hospital benefits.
  • Medicare Part B coinsurance or copayments: Part B usually pays 80% for medical care after you’ve met your deductible. Medicare Supplement plans typically pay some or all of the 20% that is your cost share.
  • First three pints of blood: Medicare Supplement plans pay some or all of the cost of the first three pints of blood transfusion. Medicare may cover the entire cost of any blood transfusion after the first three pints.
  • Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment: All Medicare Supplement plans pay some or all of the Medicare coinsurance or copayment for hospice care costs.

Compare Medicare Supplement plans: additional benefits

When you compare Medicare Supplement plans, you’ll see that some plans offer additional benefits that may be important to your health coverage and lifestyle needs. These include:

  • Medicare Part A deductible
  • Medicare Part B deductible*
  • Medicare Part B excess charges – if you go to a doctor who’s legally allowed to charge more than the Medicare-approved amount, the additional amount is called an excess charge.
  • Foreign travel – some Medicare Supplement plans provide limited coverage for emergency care you receive while traveling abroad.
  • Out-of-pocket limit – the maximum amount you’ll have to pay for Medicare cost-sharing. After you reach this limit within a year, the Medicare Supplement plan may pay 100% of your cost-sharing for the rest of that year.
  • Some plans might also include other benefits.

When you compare Medicare Supplement plans, note that Plans K, L, M, and N only pay part of certain Medicare out-of-pocket costs. You are responsible for the coinsurance or copayment amounts not paid by Medicare or the Medicare Supplement plan.

*Starting January 1, 2020, Medicare Supplement plans that cover the Part B deductible generally won’t be available to people new to Medicare.

Compare Medicare Supplement plans: premiums

Keep in mind that you will typically pay a premium for your Medicare Supplement plan, in addition to your Medicare Part B premium. Each insurance company can set its own premium rates. You may want to compare Medicare Supplement plan premiums to help you get the best value for your needs. You can compare Medicare Supplement plans by entering your zip code in the box on this page.

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