How Much Does a Medicare Supplement Plan Cost?
If you’re enrolled in Medicare, or will soon be eligible for the program, you may be thinking about buying a Medicare Supplement insurance plan to work alongside your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage. Medicare insurance Supplement insurance plans (also known as Medigap plans) are offered by private insurance companies and are designed to help pay out-of-pocket costs for services covered under Medicare Part A and Part B, such as deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. Medicare supplement insurance coverage for these out-of-pocket expenses varies by plan type.
With the exception of Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin, which have their own standardized plans, insurance companies offer standardized Medicare Supplement insurance plans identified by alphabetic letters (such as Medicare Supplement insurance Plan M). However, the premiums (the monthly amount you pay for a Medicare Supplement insurance plan) may vary from one company to another. Understanding the factors that affect your premium can help you make cost-conscious choices in your selection of a Medicare Supplement insurance plan.
Several things may affect your out-of-pocket costs when it comes to Medicare Supplement insurance plans; here are some of the major factors.
How insurance companies set Medicare Supplement insurance plan costs & premiums
Insurance companies can decide the premium costs for the Medicare Supplement insurance plans they offer. They can use any of three ways to set premium costs. Which method insurance companies use to arrive at their premiums can affect your costs in the short term or the long term.
Here is how the rating systems work.
- Community rating: Generally the premium is priced so that everyone who purchases a Medicare Supplement insurance plan of a particular type pays the same premium each month. Over time, premiums may increase because of inflation and other factors, but they won’t change because of your age.
- Issue-age rating: The premium you pay is based on your age when you buy the Medicare Supplement insurance plan. Premiums are lower if you purchase the Medicare Supplement insurance plan when you are age 65 than if you wait until you are older. Over time, premiums may increase because of inflation and other factors, but they won’t increase because of your age.
- Attained-age-rating: The premium you pay is based on your current age. Younger buyers may find Medicare Supplement insurance plans that are rated this way very affordable. Over time, however, these plans may become very expensive because your premium increases as you grow older. Premiums may also increase because of inflation and other factors.
If you are interested in purchasing a Medicare Supplement insurance plan offered by an insurance company, it is a good idea to ask what rating system they use to set their premiums. This information may provide insight into whether you would be getting the best value for the coverage the insurance company offers if you purchased it today. Furthermore, by talking to the insurance company or its agent, you may learn about discounts or value-added services offered by the insurer that reduce your costs. Sometimes insurance companies might offer discounts to couples if they choose to apply for two plans, nonsmokers, or individuals who agree to pay their premiums using electronic funds transfers. So, it may be wise to shop around and compare the premiums and benefit plans available where you live.
When you apply for a Medicare Supplement insurance plan
The time period when you apply for a Medicare Supplement insurance plan can affect your out-of-pocket costs. If you apply during the Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan Open Enrollment Period, you cannot be turned down for insurance coverage because of a health condition. This period begins the month you are both 65 years old and enrolled in Medicare Part B, and lasts for six months. If you apply during this period, you’re not required to go through medical underwriting, which can lead to a higher premium cost if you have health conditions at the time you apply. However, in some cases there may be a waiting period before coverage begins.
The type of Medicare Supplement insurance plan type you select
The benefit coverage of the Medicare Supplement insurance plan you choose usually also affects the premium you will pay. For example, you might be able to enroll in a high-deductible option for Medicare Supplement insurance Plan F. If so, the premium for the high-deductible plan will typically be lower than the premium for the standard Plan F. Also, you may be able to pay a lower premium from a Medicare SELECT plan (a type of Medicare Supplement insurance plan) because it requires you to use certain providers contracted with the insurance company.
It’s important to consider how much coverage you need from a Medicare Supplement insurance plan before you make a selection, because some Medicare Supplement insurance plans tend to have higher premiums than others. You can compare Medicare Supplement insurance plans that are available where you live – and their coverage and costs – by entering your zip code in the box on this page.
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