What Is Supplemental Insurance for Medicare?

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If you want additional coverage to supplement your Medicare Part A (hospital care) and Medicare Part B (medical care) insurance, you can apply for a supplemental insurance policy from a private insurance company. Medicare Supplement (also called Medigap) plans may cover benefits such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles not covered by Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). You will have to pay a monthly Medicare Supplement premium out-of-pocket in addition to your Medicare Part B premium. Medicare will not pay any of the costs of your Medicare Supplement plan.

Supplemental insurance: Medicare Supplement plans

A Medicare Supplement plan is meant to work alongside Medicare Part A and Part B, not replace them. If you have Original Medicare and a Medicare Supplement plan, generally Medicare will pay its share of Medicare-approved amounts for covered health-care costs and then your Medicare Supplement plan will pay its share.

Keep in mind that:

  • You typically need to pay your Medicare Part A or Part B deductible before Medicare covers most services. Some Medicare Supplement plans cover one or both of these deductibles.
  • Even if a certain benefit is covered in your Medicare Supplement plan, it may not be covered at 100%. The Medicare Supplement plan may reduce, not eliminate, your out-of-pocket costs.
  • Medicare Supplement plans can only be combined with Original Medicare (Plan A and Plan B), not Medicaid, Medicare Advantage, TRICARE, or employer/union group health coverage.

Supplemental insurance: 10 types of Medicare Supplement plans

Medicare Supplement plans are standardized, meaning that all insurance companies must offer the same benefits for the same plan. Up to 10 plans, labeled A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M and N, are offered in most states (not Massachusetts, Minnesota or Wisconsin – they have their own standardized plans). Keep in mind that the same policy sold by different companies may have different costs.

If an insurance company offers any Medicare Supplement plan, it must make Plan A available. If it offers more policies, it must offer Plan C or Plan F. (Plans E, H, I, and J are no longer sold.)

Supplemental insurance coverage: how Medicare Supplement plans can help

All ten plans cover Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs at 100% (up to an additional 365 days after Medicare benefits are used up). Beyond this one benefit, coverage amounts for Medicare out-of-pocket costs vary among plans. All ten plans also cover at least part of Medicare Part B coinsurance, the first three pints of blood for a medical procedure, and Part A hospice care coinsurance. Plans A, B, C, D, F, G, M and N cover these three benefits at 100%. Plan K covers them at 50% and Plan L covers them at 75%. There are five other benefits that some plans cover and some do not. These benefits are: skilled nursing facility care coinsurance, Part A deductible, Part B deductible, Part B excess charges, and foreign travel emergencies (80% up to plan limits).

In general, Medicare Supplement plans do not cover routine dental or vision care, long-term care in a nursing home, hearing aids, eyeglasses, or private-duty nursing. You will need to find additional insurance for these costs or pay them out-of-pocket. Medicare Supplement plans are also do not cover prescription drug coverage. If you need prescription drug coverage, you may want to enroll in a prescription drug plan through Medicare Part D.

Another type of Medicare Supplement plan is Medicare SELECT. Medicare SELECT plans may cost less than other plans but require you see certain providers.

The 10 Medicare Supplement plans plus Medicare SELECT offer a variety of coverage options. Find one that meets your needs. To get started, enter your zip code in the box on this page.

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This website and its contents are for informational purposes only. Nothing on the website should ever be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment for a health condition, including decisions about the correct medication for your condition, as well as prior to undertaking any specific exercise or dietary routine.

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The purpose of this communication is the solicitation of insurance. Contact will be made by an insurance agent/producer or insurance company. Medicare Supplement insurance plans are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program.

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