Medicare Supplement Plans: Your Medigap Guide for 2024

Medicare Supplement Plans Guide
By Lou Spatafore – Updated Feb 20, 2023
Reviewed by Leslie Jablonski
Fact checked by Mike Montes
Medicare Supplement Plans

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Since its inception in 1965, Medicare has been a vital safety net for millions of American senior citizens.

But it doesn’t cover everything. Not by a long shot. And it is not designed to stand on its own. There are significant gaps in Medicare coverage. Even with Medicare, seniors are still potentially exposed to the risk of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket health care costs.

A recent study from Fidelity Investments found that the average retired couple age 65 may need approximately $315,000 saved (after tax) to cover health care expenses in retirement.

And that’s where Medicare supplement insurance, or “Medigap” comes in: Medigap insurance exists to help Medicare beneficiaries fill in the “gaps” in Medicare coverage: In exchange for a small, affordable, and predictable monthly premium, Medigap plans shield members from large and unexpected or unpredictable out-of-pocket costs for Medicare-approved services.

Medicare Basics

To understand how Medigap works, you should understand the basic parts and structure of Medicare, including what each part covers – and what it doesn’t. 

Original Medicare (Parts A and B)

The term “Original Medicare” refers to the two main “parts” of Medicare that came into being with the passage of Title XVIII of the Social Security Act of 1965. Seniors are normally automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and B when they first become eligible at age 65. 

Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A is Hospital insurance. Medicare Part A covers most hospitalization charges for Medicare beneficiaries. It covers inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facilities, hospice care, home health care, and certain non-custodial nursing home care.

Medicare Part B

Medicare Part B is Medical Services insurance. This optional plan covers physicians’ charges, lab fees, blood, and durable medical equipment like oxygen machines, electric wheelchairs. Some people put off enrolling in Part B because they still receive benefits from a health plan at work.

If you fail to enroll in Part B during your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (normally a 7-month period surrounding the month in which you turn age 65), and you did not maintain credible coverage in the interim, you may have to pay a lifetime penalty of 10% of the normal Part B premium. 

Newer Medicare Programs

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage)

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) provides Medicare beneficiaries with an optional way to use a private managed care organization to access their benefits under Medicare Parts A and B. 

Some Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage. Others don’t, but you can purchase a separate, standalone prescription drug plan. Others don’t.

Medicare Advantage serves a similar function to Medigap: Fill in the gaps in coverage and potential out-of-pocket costs for Medigap. However, they are structured very differently.

You should not enroll in Medicare Advantage and Medigap at the same time.

Medicare Part D

Medicare Part D covers prescription drug charges for Medicare beneficiaries, subject to certain deductibles, coinsurance, and co–pays. These plans are optional. You will not be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part D. You must opt in.

These are the basic segments of Medicare.

Each of them serves an important purpose. But Original Medicare, especially, still leaves seniors exposed to significant expenses in the form of deductibles, co-insurance, co-pays, and limitations on covered hospital stays.

Medicare Part A. As of 2023, Medicare Part A kicks in only after you have covered the $1,600 deductible ($1,556 for 2022). 

In addition, even with Medicare Part A, you will be responsible for paying co-pays for hospital stays as follows (as of 2024).

  • Days 1-60: $0 (after you pay your Part A deductible)
  • Days 61-90: $400 in 2023.
  • Days 91-150: $800 copayment each day while using your 60 lifetime reserve days (as of 2023).
  • After day 150: You pay all costs.

It’s easy to see how fast your out-of-pocket costs can add up if you have one or two significant hospitalizations or more, or long stays in covered nursing facilities.

And those costs are just the beginning.

Medicare Part B only covers 80% of costs. You are responsible for covering the remaining 20%. With high-cost durable medical equipment and physicians’ fees for expensive or repeated procedures, you may face thousands in additional out-of-pocket costs – unless you take action by covering them under a Medicare supplement plan or Medicare Advantage plan.

There is also a Medicare Part B deductible of $226 as of 2023.

Medicare supplement insurance is an affordable, realistic, and flexible way for seniors to plug those gaps in coverage, smooth out their Medicare spending, and blunt the financial effects of significant and costly medical events, such as hospitalizations and chronic disease treatment.

TIP: The best time, by far, to buy a Medigap policy is during your initial Medigap Enrollment Period, beginning the first day of the month in which you are both age 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B.

See the “When To Buy Medigap” section below.

Compare Medicare Supplement Plans and the Carriers We Offer

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 Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Supplement Plans 2024
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Cigna Medicare Supplement Plans 2024
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Humana Medicare Supplement Plans 2024
Harvard Pilgram Medicare Supplement Plans 2024
United of Omaha Medicare Supplement Plans 2024




About Medicare Supplement Plans

Medicare supplement plans are sold by private insurance companies – many of which are household names among American consumers. Examples include Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Mutual of Omaha, Humana, UnitedHealthCare, Aetna, and many others.

These insurance companies are regulated by the Department of Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as by state insurance commissioners.

Medigap is the secondary insurer, with Medicare as the primary. If you have a Medigap policy, Medicare will pay its share of the Medicare‐approved amounts under Original Medicare (Parts A and B) for covered health care costs.

Medicare doesn’t pay any of the costs of buying a Medigap policy. You are responsible for purchasing and paying for Medigap premiums out of your own pocket.

There isn’t one. Medigap and Medicare supplement plans are the same thing. The terms here are used interchangeably.

Note that Medicare Advantage is a very different program than Medicare supplement insurance/Medigap.

As of 2022, there are ten standard Medigap insurance plans, each authorized by the U.S. Department of Medicare and Medicaid Services. These plans, designated A through N, are standardized across the United States, except in three states that have adopted different standard plans. These three states are Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Because the plans are standardized, each plan under a given letter name must offer the same basic set of benefits and exclusions, no matter what company you buy it from.

The price (monthly premium) differs from company to company. But the basic set of benefits won’t: A Medicare Supplement Plan G from Humana will have the same basic benefits as a Medicare Supplement Plan G from Blue Cross/Blue Shield, or from any other carrier in the market.

So it’s pretty easy to compare plans from different insurance companies.

Each of these Medicare supplement plans provides a different mix of benefits. However, all of them will cover your Part A coinsurance costs and hospital costs for up to 365 days after you use up your benefits under Original Medicare. 

Furthermore, they all cover all or part of your 20% share of expenses under Medicare Part B for lab fees, doctors’ fees, durable medical equipment, and outpatient expenses.

All Medigap plans except for Plan K and Plan Lalso cover all costs for hospice care. Plan K covers 50% of hospice costs, and Plan L covers 75% of costs. 

All plans cover 100% of out-of-pocket hospice care costs, except for Plan K and Plan L, which cover 50% and 75% of hospice costs, respectively.

Most plans cover up to 80 percent of costs for care provided outside of the United States, which makes Medicare Advantage.

Generally not. Standard Medigap plans allow you to use your benefits with any provider that accepts Medicare patients, anywhere in the country.

This is one important way that Medigap differs from Medicare Advantage plans: Medicare Advantage relies on managed care organizations such as HMOs that save costs by negotiating discounted prices from care providers in a given area in exchange for a steady flow of patients. Outside of the network area, patients may have very limited options.

They then require patients to get non-emergency care from providers within the network, or they sharply restrict what they will pay. 

It’s one of the great tradeoffs in the medical industry: The narrower the network, the greater the discounts the HMO can negotiate, all things being equal. So that lowers costs. But narrow networks also reduce choices available to patients. 

However some Medicare Advantage plans allow patients access to their Medicare benefits at greatly reduced premiums. There’s even a zero-premium option available in many areas.


Medigap Plans Benefits A B C D F G K L M N
Available to new enrollees after January 1, 2022
Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to an additional 365 days after Medicare benefits are used up
Part B coinsurance or copayment 50% 75% ✓***
Blood (first 3 pints) 50% 75%
Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment 50% 75%
Skilled nursing facility care coinsurance 50% 75%
Part A deductible 50% 75% 50%
Part B deductible
Part B excess charge
Foreign travel exchange (up to plan limits) 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80%
Out-of-pocket limit*** $6,940 $3,470


* Plans F and G also offer a high-deductible plan. If you choose this option, this means you must pay for Medicare-covered costs up to the deductible amount of $2,700 in 2023 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.

Plans F and C are not available to everyone. If you were eligible for Medicare after January 1st, 2022, you will not be able to sign up for Plans F or C. However, if you were eligible for Medicare before January 1st, 2022, you will still be able to sign up for Plan F or C.

Plans F and G come with either a standard or a higher $2,700 deductible. With the $2,700-deductible plan, you pay for $2,700 worth of Medicare-covered costs, such as co-insurance, co-payments and deductibles, before Plan F or G coverage begins. In exchange, premiums are lower on the high-deductible plan than on the standard-deductible plan. After the deductible has been met, the high-deductible Plan F and G pay the same benefits as the standard-deductible version.

Once you reach the annual out-of-pocket limit on either Plan K or Plan L, that plan will pay 100% of the Medicare co-payment, co-insurance and deductibles for the rest of the calendar year. The out-of-pocket limit does not include charges for any provider that exceeds Medicare-approved amounts, known as excess charges.

With Plan M, you pay 50% of the Part A deductible ($1,600 per benefit period), as well as the entire Part B deductible for the calendar year ($226).

Plan N pays all of the Part A deductible, and you pay the Part B deductible plus a $20 co-payment for some doctor appointments and a $50 co-payment for trips to the Emergency Room.

Part B Excess Charges can occur if a doctor doesn’t accept Medicare’s approved amount. Medicare will pay 80% of the amount it sets for specific doctor services. If Medicare pays 80% on a service it says should cost $100 and a doctor charges you $100, Medicare pays $80 and you owe $20. If the doctor charges you $120, however, Medicare will still pay $80 and you owe $40. Medigap Plan F and Plan G will take care of those excess charges for you.

Some plans may not be available in every state.  Run an instant quote to see the plans in your area, or contact us to learn more about your available options. 

Medicare SELECT: A Lower-Cost Alternative

In some states, you may be able to buy a special type of Medigap policy called Medicare SELECT. Medicare SELECT plans are hybrids: They may require you to see certain providers for non-emergency care, but also may cost less per month than other Medigap plans.

If you’re on a budget, and you’re not worried about not being able to choose your own doctor, then electing a Medicare SELECT Medigap plan or a zero-premium Medicare Advantage plan may be good options for you, depending on what’s available in your area. 

Standard Medicare Supplement Plans

You can view all the standard Medigap plans as adopted in 47 states plus the District of Columbia here.

Can I Buy Medigap Plan F, Plan C, Plan E, Plan H, Plan I or Plan J?

Plans E, H, I, and J are no longer sold, but current Medicare beneficiaries who are already enrolled in one of those plans are usually grandfathered in.

Plan F and Plan C are also closed to new Medicare beneficiaries. But you can still buy them if you were eligible for Medicaid on or before January 1st, 2020.

These plans were hugely popular because they essentially covered all out-of-pocket expenses associated with Medicare. However, Congress eventually decided that they were too good a deal, and that people needed to participate in the cost in some way. So they closed those plans for people who were not already Medicare eligible.

If you aren’t eligible for Plan F or Plan C, the next most comprehensive plans are Plans G and N. Medicare Supplement Plan G covers all out-of-pocket costs for Medicare services under Part A and B, except for the Part B deductible of $226, as of 2023. Medicare Supplement Plan N covers everything except the Part B deductible and any physicians’ “excess charges” over and above the Medicare-approved rates, if your state allows excess charges.

Plan N also requires 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 a hospital admission.

If your state does not allow excess charges, then Plan N may be a slightly better deal than Plan G. But if you’re a frequent customer at your local Emergency Department, your co-pays might offset any premium savings from using Plan N rather than Plan G.

Give us a call and we’ll help you assess which of these plans might be the best one for your particular circumstances. 

Medigap Advantages

Medigap plans have a number of advantages in common, compared to Medicare Advantage plans:

Freedom to choose your own provider – anywhere in the United States.

No referral required to see a specialist. HMOs and other managed care plans control costs by requiring patients to get a referral from their primary care doctor before they can see a specialist. 

Medigap Advantages

This is routine in Medicare Advantage. But Medigap plan members can go directly to any specialist who takes Medicare patients.

Foreign travel benefits. Medicare supplement plans C, D, F, G, M, and N include foreign travel benefits. These plans may be a good choice for people who plan to travel outside the United States in retirement. 

most popular Medicare supplement plansWhat are the most popular Medicare supplement plans? 

As of 2021, the most popular Medigap plan is also the most comprehensive: Plan F, according to research from America’s Health Insurance Plans (

But Plan F is closed to new Medicare benficiaires.

The second most popular plan, with 22% of all Medigap beneficiaries enrolled, is Plan G

Plan N is the third most popular plan, at 10% of all Medigap beneficiaries enrolled. It’s also the 2nd most comprehensive plan available to new Medicare employees.

The fourth most popular is Plan C, which is also among the most comprehensive plans in Medigap. But like Plan F, Plan C is closed to new Medicare beneficiaries.

High-Deductible Medigap PlanSave Money With a High-Deductible Medigap Plan

If you have some savings, and you’re able to absorb some more of your health care costs, and you’re in decent health, you might consider a high-deductible Medigap plan. These plans require you to pick up more of your medical costs. But premiums are generally much lower.

Plan F and G both have high-deductible versions available in some areas. The Plan F version is not available to those who weren’t already Medicare-eligible as of January 1st. 2020. But new enrollees can still buy a high-deductible Plan G.

If you get a high‐deductible Medigap plan, you must pay for Medicare‐ covered costs (coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles) up to $2,700 (as of 2023) before your policy will pay anything.

You must also pay a separate deductible ($250 per year) for foreign travel emergency services.

When to Buy Medigap

Your Medigap initial enrollment period is a limited six-month window that begins on the first day of the first month in which you are both age 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B.

This time is the only time during your lifetime you enjoy a guaranteed enrollment privilege with Medigap plans. You have the right to buy any Medigap plan issued in your state, regardless of your medical history or condition.

When to buy Medigap

They have to sell them at the best rate. As long as you buy during your initial enrollment period, the Medigap insurance company cannot charge you any more than they charge another person your age and sex and location with no medical issues.  They can charge more for smokers, however.

If you’re overweight, have diabetes, heart disease, or a history of any kind of medical condition, you should definitely keep an eye on your initial enrollment period.

You can put off your initial enrollment period by delaying enrollment in Part B. This is common for people who still get medical insurance from an employer. But once your initial enrollment period ends and you haven’t already enrolled in Medigap, you will have to go through medical underwriting in the future.

That means that insurance companies can charge a higher premium due to your medical history, or even turn you down outright.

Some companies have stricter underwriting standards than others. Other companies are more willing to enroll people with diabetes, high blood pressure, or other conditions. But premiums for these plans are normally higher.

By buying a Medigap plan during your initial enrollment period, while you are still in good health, and before any new medical conditions can onset, you preserve your choices and you get access to the best risk pools.

Putting off the decision means paying higher Medigap premiums in the future, for life, loss of access to the more selective (and therefore lower-cost) Medigap carriers, and potentially being turned down outright for Medigap insurance. 

A handful of states have adopted rules allowing Medicare beneficiaries an additional Medigap  open enrollment period around their birthdays. During this window, they can enroll in Medigap without having to answer any questions about their health

As of October 2022, these states are California, Oregon, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, and Nevada.

Specific rules, deadlines, criteria differ in each of these states. 

A handful of states have adopted rules allowing Medicare beneficiaries an additional Medigap  open enrollment period around their birthdays. During this window, they can enroll in Medigap without having to answer any questions about their health

As of October 2022, these states are California, Oregon, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, and Nevada.

Specific rules, deadlines, criteria differ in each of these states. 

Medicare itself will cover your pre-existing conditions. But the Medigap plan may not pay its part for that period. So may have to pay deductibles, co-insurance, and copays related to the treatment of your pre-existing condition for up to six months after you enroll in a Medigap plan.

This is called the “pre-existing condition waiting period.”

However, this is only temporary.

After six months, the Medigap plan will begin to pay benefits for treatment of that particular condition.

Again, though, buying Medigap insurance when you’re first eligible, during your initial enrollment period, means you won’t have to worry about any waiting periods. Your Medigap policy will pay benefits for treatment of your pre-existing condition from the first day.

In some circumstances, switching Medigap plans when you are first eligible

Medigap Prices

Because Medigap is sold by private insurance companies, they are generally free to set their own pricing. Different Medigap plans therefore have different prices.

Medigap companies have three broad approaches to pricing, each has advantages and disadvantages.  

Medicare Supplement Plan Prices
  • Community rating: Everyone in the plan pays the same price, regardless of age. That means younger members effectively subsidize older members – but benefit as they themselves get older, since prices don’t increase as much as they would in an attained age-rated system. 
  • Issue age-rated: The company sets premiums based on your age when you first enroll in the plan. People who enroll when first eligible therefore enjoy lower premiums than people who delay enrollment.
  • Attained age-rated: Premiums are based on your age now. So premiums are low when you first enroll, and then steadily increase as you get older.

Comparing Medigap and Medicare Advantage

While Medigap and Medicare Advantage both provide an affordable and cost-effective way for seniors to protect themselves against the sky-high cost of medical care, and both cover some or all out-of-pocket costs for services covered under Original Medicare, they take very different approaches.

The best solution for you will depend on your location (some Medicare Advantage plan networks are very strong in certain areas, and very limited in others), medical condition, supports and services available, and, of course, your budget.

Here’s a rough breakdown of some of the major things Medigap and Medicare Advantage have in common… and how they differ. 

Medigap (Medicare Supplement)

Medigap (Medicare Supplement)


Private insurance companies
Cover all Medicare Part A and Part B benefits
No prescription drug coverage (consider buying a Part D plan)
Foreign travel benefit in some plans
No care network restrictions (exception: Medicare SELECT)
Can be used anywhere in the country
Any doctor who takes Medicare patients
Always have premiums
No specific special needs programs
No ‘non-medical’ benefits.
Generally not suitable for Medicaid beneficiaries

Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage
(Part C)

Private insurance companies
Cover all Medicare Part A and Part B benefits
Some plans include prescription drug coverage. Some plans don’t.
Normally no foreign travel benefit
You must normally get non-emergency treatment within your care network
Usually limited coverage outside of geographic area
Restricted care networks
Zero-premium options available in most areas
Special needs programs
More non-medical benefits in some plans (e.g., transportation services, meal delivery, grocery delivery, home modification benefits, etc., in some areas
Special programs for “dual eligible” patients simultaneously enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicare Supplement Plans and Prescription Drugs

No Medicare supplement plan includes coverage for prescription drugs. But prescription drugs represent a huge cost risk, with some newly-developed drugs costing thousands of dollars per dose.

If you are enrolled or plan to enroll in Medigap, and you want prescription drug coverage, you should consider enrolling in a Medicare Part D plan.

You’ll have to pay an additional premium for this coverage, over and above your Medigap premiums.

If you rely on any specific prescription drugs, check the plan formulary before you enroll. Look at whether the drug you need is included on the formulary, and what “Tier” it is, which will affect how it’s priced within your Part D insurance plan.

There are other options, too, such as discount plans like the Mark Cuban Cost-Plus Drug Company. But these plans generally only cover generic drugs. They don’t transfer risk, and so don’t perform as insurance.

Medicare Supplement Plans vs. Health Sharing

Health sharing is a less well-known, but increasingly popular non-insurance alternative that can help shield you from high unexpected medical costs  – often at just a fraction of the cost of traditional insurance-based approaches.

One of these innovative healthsharing plans, the Medi-Share 65+ plan, is designed specifically for Medicare beneficiaries. 

How Medi-Share Healthsharing Works

Medi-Share is not an insurance company. Instead, Medi-Share is a non-profit health sharing ministry organization where  more than 400,000 members agree to live healthy, responsible lifestyles in accordance with Biblical values, and who agree to share each other’s medical bills.

Each Medi-Share 65+ member makes a monthly contribution to the plan to help share fellow members’ expenses. Medi-Share simply facilitates the collection, need verification, and distribution of member contributions to those in need. 

Click here to learn more about the health sharing concept, in general.

Medi-Share 65+ Sharing Benefits

Like Medigap plans, Medi-Share 65+ helps Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the plan pay out-of-pocket costs for services approved under Original Medicare but that Medicare doesn’t pay, specifically, Part A and B deductibles, co-pays, and coinsurance.

Under Medi-Share 65+, plan members are responsible for the first $500 in Original Medicare charges per family (not per individual). 

After that, 100% of your costs for services approved under Original Medicare are 100% shareable. That is, you don’t pay them out of pocket. Your fellow Medi-Share members pick up the cost. You just continue to make your monthly sharing contribution, which helps others in need.

Medi-Share’s 65+ sharing benefits are similar to those of Medigap Plans G and N. But Medi-Share 65+ is available for a significantly lower monthly outlay. 

No Provider Network Restrictions

Like Medigap plans (and unlike Medicare Advantage), Medi-Share 65+ allows you to use your sharing benefits with any doctor or provider. You can choose your own doctor, and you are not limited to any specific care network for non-emergency care.


While Medigap Plan G plan pricing runs from $160 and up in most areas, Medi-Share 65+ plans start at just $99 per month for those aged 65 to 74, and just $150 per month for those aged 75 and older.

Pricing is the same regardless of your location.

Furthermore, Medi-Share 65+ also comes with a price lock-in guarantee: If you sign up before you turn 75, Medi-Share will lock in your pricing until your 75th birthday. That’s up to a ten-year price guarantee, if you sign up at age 65!

Sign up for Medi-Share 65+ in minutes!

Your Private Medicare Strategy Options at a Glance

This table illustrates the basic features, benefits, and limitations of each of your private Medicare strategy options.

Medi-Share 65+ healthsharing, Medigap, and Medicare Advantage each have important advantages and disadvantages. There is no “one-size-fits-all” option. The best plan for you depends on your medical status, location, budget, and many other factors. 

Medi-Share 65+Medigap Plan GMedicare Advantage
Non-insurance alternativeMedicare provided by a private
Traditional insurance plan
Shares All Deductibles, Co-pays,
and Co-insurance for Medicare
Parts A and B over $500
responsibility amount
$226 deductible for Medicare
Part B, as of 2023. Plan G covers
all other out of pocket costs for
Part A and B services.
Plans Vary
Can see any provider Can see any providerNon-emergency care must
stay within network
See specialist without referral See specialist without referral
Must get a referral from PCP
with HMOs but not PPOs
Good anywhere in the U.S. Good anywhere in the U.S. Most networks are regional
Can use outside of U.S.
Some plans provide 80%
coverage for care outside the
Must stay within the U.S.
Low monthly contributions ($99
for ages 65-74, $150 for ages
75+, anywhere in the U.S.
Varies, but can be up to
$400+/month for a Plan G
Varies, but many zero-premium plans available
No prescription drug coverageNo prescription drug coverageSome plans include
prescription drug coverage
You pay monthly sharing
amount, + member
responsibility amount
You pay premiums, plus $226
Part B deductible
Premiums (sometimes),
deductibles, co-pays,
No copays to providersDepends on plan. But Plans F
and G have no copays
Copays are typical
Medical underwriting required
to join
Guaranteed issue within 6
months of enrolling in Medicare
Part B
Guaranteed issue during initial
eligibility period and annual
election period
(limited window to enroll)
Mayo/Cleveland Clinic includedMayo/Cleveland Clinic included
High-tier providers may not
included in network

Note: If you want some expert assistance in deciding which of these strategies is the best fit for you, we’re happy to help! Just click here to make an appointment for a free consultation with a Medigap Advisors Personal Benefits Manager.

Or if you are ready, click here sign up to enroll in Medi-Share 65+ right away! It’s easy, and takes just minutes. 

Buying Medicare Supplement Plans

The vast majority of Medigap salespeople are honest. But there have been a few incidents of unethical sales practices around the country.

Here’s what to be aware of when you’re buying a Medicare supplement plan:

Buying Medicare Supplement Plans
  • You should not be pressured into buying a Medigap policy. Our process is consultative. We don’t use high-pressure tactics. We will do our best to keep you reminded of upcoming deadlines, however, such as initial enrollment periods, though!
  • Agents should not mislead or lie to entice you to switch from one company or policy to another – a practice called “churning.” There are sometimes good reasons to switch. But you should always know what those reasons are. 
  • Agents should not try to sell you a second Medigap policy when they know you already have one, unless you plan to cancel your existing Medigap policy. 
  • Agents should not try to sell you a Medigap policy when they know you already have Medicare Advantage, unless the plan is to switch, and your Medicare Advantage coverage ends before your Medigap policy takes effect. 
  • In most situations, Agents shouldn’t sell you a policy if they know you have Medicaid.
  • Agents should not claim that Medigap is part of Medicare. Medicare is a government program;  Medigap plans are sold by private insurance companies. 
  • Agents should not sell Medigap plans that cannot be legally sold in your state. 
  • Agents should not sell Medigap or Medicare Advantage without being licensed in your state. 
  • Sales agents must not claim to be a “Medicare” representative. They work for a private insurance company and represent private insurance companies. Not the Department of Medicare and Medicaid Services, nor any other government agency. 
  • Agents cannot claim or imply that any Medigap policy or vendor has been endorsed or approved by the federal government or any agency thereof.

Can I Switch Medicare Supplement Plans?

Sometimes people want to switch from one Medicare supplement plan to a different one.

There are several good reasons you might want to do this:

  • You need new benefits you didn’t need before, such as foreign travel benefits, and you want to switch to a plan that has them. 
  • You’re overpaying for benefits you no longer need. 
  • You aren’t happy with your insurance company’s customer service, communication, or claims payments. 
  • You find the same plan available for a lower premium. 

Switching Medigap Plans and Guaranteed Enrollment Rights

In most states, you only have a right to switch from one Medigap policy to another if:

A. you’re within your six-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period, or;

B. you’re eligible for guaranteed issue rights because of specific circumstances. 

Outside of these circumstances, you don’t have an automatic right to be accepted by another Medigap plan provider. To switch outside of these circumstances, you must pass medical underwriting. That means you could be “rated up” (required to pay a higher premium due to your medical history) or turned down altogether.

Medigap plans aren’t subject to the same Affordable Care ACT rules that otherwise force insurance companies to accept applicants with pre-existing medical conditions. Medigap plans only have to take you during your initial enrollment period, or under specific life conditions (such as your existing plan being terminated).  

Some states have less stringent rules on switching between Medigap plans than others. 

Go here to read more about Medicare supplement plan open enrollment periods

What to Consider When Switching Medicare Supplement Plans

If you’re in good health, you may well pass medical underwriting, and be able to find another Medigap provider who will accept you. Your premium may go up, however, due to you being older than you were when you first enrolled in Medigap.

Before switching, be sure to compare all aspects of both Medigap plans, including not only current premiums, but the outlook for future premium increases, before switching. For example, some Medigap plans will guarantee level premiums for life  to customers who sign on during the open enrollment period.

Switching to a plan that has attained age pricing, and out of a plan with a guaranteed level premium lock-in may save money in the short run. In the long run, you may be exposed to significant premium increases in future years, as you get older.

Also, be aware that there are some benefits available in Medigap plans that were purchased prior to 2010 that aren’t available today. 

What is the Medigap “Free Look” Period?

When you enroll in a new Medigap policy, you have up to 30 days by law from the time your new policy is delivered  to look over your policy documents. Make sure the plan’s benefits and premiums match your understanding from the insurance agent who sold you the policy.

If you decide you don’t want the plan, you can cancel at any time during the “free look” period, and keep the original plan.

However, you’ll need to pay two premiums for that month.

If you decide to keep the new one, be sure to cancel the old one. But don’t cancel your old Medigap policy before your new one is in force.

Can I Switch from Medigap to Medicare Advantage?

It is possible to switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to a Medicare supplement/Medigap plan. However, you can’t do so whenever you like. You must wait until the Medicare Advantage Annual Election period, which runs from October 15th through December 7th each year in most states. 

If you want to switch back to Medigap after dropping your plan and going with a Medicare Advantage plan, you can only do so in the first 12 months of signing up with Medicare Advantage, or if this isn’t the first time you’ve dropped Medigap for Medicare Advantage, if you have guaranteed issue rights.

Can I Switch from Medicare Advantage to Medigap?

Yes, but in most cases you’ll have to go through medical underwriting. That means you could be turned down.

However, there are certain exceptions: If you’re relocating out of your Medicare Advantage plan’s service area, for example, or your Medicare Advantage plan was discontinued, you may qualify for guaranteed issue rights when you apply for your new Medigap plan.

In this case, you’ll have a six-month window, your Medigap enrollment period,  in which to make the switch. 

Medigap Open Enrollment vs. Medicare Open Enrollment

It’s important not to confuse the various Medicare-related enrollment periods, election periods, and deadlines.

Medigap Open Enrollment is your once-in-a-lifetime enrollment window that opens for a six-month window when you are at least age 65 and you enroll in Medicare Part B.

Medigap Open Enrollment vs. Medicare Open Enrollment
Your Annual Election Period comes every year, from October 15h through December 7th. During the annual election period, you are allowed to make changes to your Medicare Advantage coverage and certain other Medicare-related coverages.

During the annual election period, you may make any of these changes to your Medicare coverage: 

  • Change to a Medicare Advantage plan from Original Medicare, Part A and Part B.
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare, Part A and Part B.
  • Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another (regardless of whether either plan offers drug coverage).
  • Enroll in Part D prescription drug plan.
  • Change from one Medicare prescription drug plan to another.
  • Drop prescription drug coverage completely. 

Note that “enroll in a Medigap plan” is conspicuously absent from these choices. You can apply to a Medigap plan, but you are generally not entitled to a guaranteed enrollment privilege, except in very specific circumstances.

How To Buy Medicare Supplement Plans

How To Buy Medicare Supplement PlansThere’s a lot of information out there. It can seem overwhelming at times.

But it doesn’t have to be.

At Medigap Advisors, we make it easy for Medicare beneficiaries and retirees to learn about all your health care options. And then to select the right plan or combination of plans to suit your particular plans and budget.

Our process is low-pressure and consultative. We’ll ask you a series of questions to define your needs and what aspects of a Medicare strategy are most important to you and your family.

Then we’ll walk you through your choices, making sure you understand the advantages, disadvantages, and costs of each of your options under consideration.

The process is very easy, and low stress.

For more information, or to learn more about your options, click here, and set an appointment with one of our experienced Personal Benefits Advisors. Or if you prefer, don’t hesitate to call us at 800-913-3416