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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 17, 2022

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The Lowdown

  • Medicare Supplement Insurance can provide funds for your copayments and deductibles
  • Medicare Advantage plans cover expanded healthcare needs like dental, vision, hearing, and prescription drugs
  • Both Medigap and Medicare Advantage are provided by private insurance companies, so prices will vary

If you want to get the most out of your Medicare Supplement plan coverage, you will need to know which plan is right for you. Medicare Supplement Insurance helps cover the extra expenses associated with healthcare like deductibles and copayments. Most Medicare Advantage plans provide prescription drug benefits as well as coverage for hearing, dental, and vision costs. We’ve done the research and can tell you how to find the best Medicare Supplement plan for your needs.

Medicare Supplement Plans

Medicare is a major contributor to the health insurance coverage system in America. Over 60 million Americans currently rely on Medicare to help with ever-rising healthcare costs. Medicare helps cover healthcare expenses for the majority of patients over 65 years of age and even some younger qualifying patients. However, Medicare doesn’t cover 100% of healthcare expenses. For that, you need a Medicare Supplement plan.

Medicare Supplement insurance, also known as Medigap, is private insurance you can purchase to handle those costs that traditional Medicare doesn’t cover. Medicare can help a lot, as you can see in this comprehensive guide. However, when you’re dealing with the complicated world of healthcare expenses, Medicare has some shortcomings.

When you need help with copayments, deductibles, or coinsurance bills, you can count on your Medicare Supplement, or Medigap insurance plan to work alongside Original Medicare. Let’s break down exactly what Medigap is all about. First, there are some guidelines. To start with, you must already be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B to qualify. Next, you need to find the right plan.

As Medigap is not provided by Medicare, but rather offered by private insurance companies, you will want to shop around a bit to find the plan that fits your budget and needs. There are several factors here that determine the most popular Medigap plans.

Generally, your age will determine the cost of your monthly premiums. You will be paying these monthly premiums to the private insurance company that offers the Medicare Supplement plan you choose. This will be in addition to the regular payments you make for your original Medicare plan. The specific offerings and payment structure of each plan will also vary, but each is going to cover the same basic healthcare expenses. Take some time to decide which Medicare Supplement plan is right for you.

A great benefit of having a Medicare Supplement plan is each Medigap policy offers guaranteed renewals. Your provider is not allowed to cancel your policy if you have or develop health problems. As long as you continue to make your monthly payments, your coverage will be maintained.

Medigap is provided by private insurance companies, so you will see varying costs associated with these plans. To help determine the right plan for you, we’ve analyzed the most popular Medicare Supplemental insurance plans and their related costs.

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What is the most popular Medicare Supplement plan?

Medicare Supplement plans are quite popular in general. Almost 40% of Medicare subscribers have added Medigap to their coverage plans. The ability to cover extra healthcare expenses is obviously attractive, but there are a variety of plans to choose from. Let’s have a look at the best Medigap plans.

Among those adding supplements to their Medicare plans, Medigap Plan F has traditionally been the most popular.  Before 2020, you could enroll in Plan F and pay a larger deductible in exchange for complete coverage of all the expenses not covered by Medicare. However, changes in legislation mean Plan F is no longer available to new applicants. If you were enrolled in Medicare before 2020 you can keep the supplemental coverage, but otherwise, you are out of luck. The closest options are Plans G and N.

Each of these plans offers substantial coverage of your healthcare costs related to copayments and deductibles, just like Plan F, but with lower premiums available. Both Plan N and Plan G are available to new Medicare enrollees and are rapidly growing in popularity.

How much does a supplemental Medicare plan cost?

You may be looking for the cheapest Medicare Supplement plan, but be advised they do not all provide the same benefits. Rates are determined by a variety of factors. Each private insurance provider determines its own prices for premiums, and these amounts can change over time. Age, date of enrollment, and plan type are the three main categories for rate determination.

Some plans will cost more as you age. Older enrollees will pay higher premiums, and these rates will increase as you age. Issue-determined rates are established on the date you enroll. Your monthly bill is determined on the date you sign up, and it will not change over time. Community-rated plans charge a set rate for all enrollees based on community standards for all participants. With these plans, your rates won’t be affected by your age or any other factors.

It’s always advisable to get all the information you can before signing up for a Medicare Supplement plan. Once you find a good health insurance agent, ask them how the rates are determined before you enroll in a Medigap plan.

What is the cheapest Medicare Supplement plan?

The cheapest Medicare Supplement plans are generally Part G and Part N.  Part G covers your Part A deductible as well as the 20% coinsurance and copayments that go along with your Medicare plan. It also covers medical emergencies that occur while you’re traveling abroad. Part G does not cover your Part B deductible.

Part N also covers the Part A deductible and medical emergencies abroad and the 20% payments. However, Part N is a cost-sharing plan, which means there are some copays that go along with it, including $20 for doctor’s visits and $50 for emergency room trips.

In addition to Medicare Supplement plans, there is another type of additional coverage you can obtain to help with healthcare costs. Let’s have a look at Medicare Advantage plans now.

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Medicare Advantage Plans

Another viable method to boost your Medicare insurance coverage is to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. But what is the difference between a Medicare Advantage plan and a Medicare supplement plan?

Medicare Advantage plans combine Medicare Parts A and B and also provide additional coverage. Many include dental, vision, and hearing coverage as well as prescription drug coverage.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, work with private health insurance companies to provide Medicare Advantage plans. These insurance providers have contracts with Medicare so that they can provide all the benefits of Medicare Part A and Part B, as well as the additional benefits Medicare Advantage provides. In this way, just like with Medigap insurance, you will get your coverage through a private insurance company and pay them directly.

What is the difference between a Medicare Advantage plan and a Medicare Supplement plan?

While each plan type is similar in approach, there are significant differences between Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans. Let’s compare these additions to Original Medicare plans now.

Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs, and neither do any Medicare Supplement plans. This means that if you want your prescription drug costs to be covered, you will need to add Medicare Part D to your insurance portfolio. If you then enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan, you could be paying for original Medicare, a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, and Medicare Part D for prescription drugs.

This is a lot to deal with. You may find the less complex Medicare Advantage plan system to be a more feasible solution. A Medicare Advantage plan provides the same benefits as traditional Medicare, often provides prescription drug benefits, and offers coverage for additional health concerns.

As mentioned, the only way to get health insurance coverage for dental, vision, and hearing issues is with a Medicare Advantage plan that includes it. In addition, unlike Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage provides a ceiling for your out-of-pocket costs, so you can avoid unexpectedly high healthcare costs.

It’s important to note that you are not allowed to carry both Medicare Advantage and a Medicare Supplement insurance plan. You may be permitted to carry both types of coverage as you transition from one to the other. However, you will not be allowed to keep both active in the long term. It may even be illegal in some cases. As always, communicate with your agent before making any decisions.

Get the Most out of Your Medicare Supplement Plan

The best way to get the most value for your Medigap or Medicare Advantage insurance plan is to be informed and to compare Medicare supplement plans before buying. Decide specifically which benefits you want to receive, and tell your agent how much you are willing to spend. Finding the right Medicare Supplement plan can make a big difference in your finances, and your peace of mind.