The ABCs of Picking a Medicare Supplemental Policy
Dear Savvy Senior,
Can you provide any advice on choosing a Medicare supplemental policy to help cover things outside of Medicare? I'll be 65 in a few months and could use some assistance.
Looking for Help
If you plan to enroll in original Medicare, getting a supplemental policy (also known as Medigap insurance) too is a smart idea because it will help pay for things that aren't covered by Medicare like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. Here are some tips to help you choose an appropriate plan.
In all but three states (Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin), Medigap plans, which are sold by private health insurers, come in 10 standardized benefit packages labeled with the letters A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M and N.
Plan F is the most popular policy followed by plan C because they provide comprehensive coverage. Plans K and L are high-deductible policies that have lower premiums but impose higher out-of-pocket costs. Plan F also offers a high-deductible version in some states. And a popular middle ground policy that attracts many healthy beneficiaries is plan N.
For more information on the different types of plans and the coverage they provide, including Medigap options in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, see Medicare's "Choosing a Medigap Policy" guide at Medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/02110-medicare-medigap.guide.pdf, or call 1-800-MEDICARE and ask them to mail you a copy.
How to Choose
To pick a Medigap policy that works best for you, consider your health, family medical history and your budget. The differences among plans can be small and rather confusing.
To help you choose, visit Medicare.gov, and click on "Supplements & Other Insurance" at the top of the page, then on "Find a Medigap policy" and type in your ZIP code. This will give you a list of the plans available in your area, their price ranges and the names, and contact information of companies that sell them. But it's up to you to contact the carriers directly to get there specific pricing information.
You can also compare Medigap prices on most state insurance department websites (see NAIC.org/state_web_map.htm for links), or you can order a personalized report from Weiss Ratings for $99 at WeissMedigap.com.
Since all Medigap policies with the same letter must cover the exact same benefits (it's required by law), you should shop for the cheapest policy.