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Buying a Medigap Plan: What to Know About Costs, Choosing a Plan, and More

Medigap plans are a popular choice for many people on Medicare. Find out why and what you need to know when you enroll in Medicare.

4 mins read
Our goal is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your health and finances. Although we may receive compensation from our partner insurance companies, whom we will always identify, all opinions are our own. CoverRight Inc. and CoverRight Insurance Services Inc. (NPN: 19724057) are collectively referred to here as "CoverRight".

Understanding healthcare costs is crucial, especially for Medicare beneficiaries who often face out-of-pocket expenses that Medicare doesn’t cover. Medigap plans serve as an important financial safety net in such situations. They are designed to cover these extra costs and offer a more complete healthcare coverage experience.

This article aims to provide valuable insights into the cost dimensions of Medigap plans. Healthcare costs are a significant concern for many, so knowing how Medigap pricing works can help you budget more effectively. 

What Are Medigap Plans?

Medigap plans are supplemental insurance policies offered by private insurance companies. They fill in the coverage gaps left by Original Medicare, helping you pay for out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. Medigap plans are also known as Medicare Supplement plans.

The payment process is fairly straightforward when you have both Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) and a Medigap plan. Original Medicare pays its share of the approved amount for any covered healthcare services first. After that, your Medigap plan will cover its share of the remaining costs, which can provide significant financial relief from unexpected medical expenses.

Insurance companies standardize Medigap plans into different types, labeled from A through N. Each type provides the same basic benefits, no matter which company offers it. For example, Plan A offers the most basic coverage, including hospital and medical coinsurance and the first three pints of blood.

Factors That Influence Medigap Plan Costs

The cost of a Medigap plan is not standardized. Several variables come into play when insurance companies set premiums for their Medigap plans. Let’s break down the main factors:

  • Age: Many Medigap policies are age-rated. This means that premiums can increase as you age, so the price you pay at 75 years may be significantly different from what you’ll pay at 65.
  • Geographic Location: Where you live also has a significant impact on Medigap premiums. Some areas simply have more expensive healthcare, which is reflected in higher Medigap plan costs
  • Plan Type: With standardized plans ranging from A to N, the benefits—and therefore costs—vary widely. Comprehensive plans like Plan F and Plan G will generally have higher premiums compared to more basic plans like Plan A or Plan B.
  • Health and Lifestyle: Insurance companies might also take into account your overall health status and lifestyle choices, like whether you smoke or not. Some companies offer discounts for non-smokers or those with healthier lifestyles.
  • Insurance Company: Private companies sell Medigap plans, so even for identical plan types, premiums can differ based on the insurer’s pricing strategy and other business considerations.

Medigap Plan Pricing Methods

Insurance companies use different methods to calculate premiums for Medigap plans. The three most common pricing methods are:

  • Community-Rated: Here, everyone in a specific area pays the same premium, regardless of age or health condition.
  • Issue-Age-Rated: With this method, your premium is set based on your age when you buy the policy. Premiums are lower for those who buy at a younger age and don’t change as you get older.
  • Attained-Age-Rated: In this case, premiums start low but increase as you age.

How to Shop Around For the Lowest Cost Medigap Plans

Finding a Medigap plan that offers the coverage you need at a price you can afford requires some research and careful consideration. 

Begin by deciding which Medigap plan best suits your requirements. Insurance providers standardize Medigap plans and label them with letters from A to N. Each plan type provides a distinct set of benefits, so you’ll want to compare these carefully. Take a close look at what each plan covers and choose one that aligns with your healthcare needs.

After identifying the plan that fits your criteria, the next step is to compare policies from different insurance providers. The main difference you’ll notice between similar plan types from different companies lies in the price8. Different insurers may offer the same plan type at different rates, so it’s essential to get quotes from multiple companies to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Once you’ve collected quotes, contact the insurance company directly to get an official estimate. Bear in mind that prices can fluctuate based on a myriad of factors, including the time you purchase the policy, your age, health status, and location. Confirming the cost directly with the insurance company ensures you have the most current and accurate pricing information.

Which Medigap Plans Should You Consider?

Most states offer 10 different government-approved Medigap plans, but two of the most popular ones are Medicare Supplement Plan G and Medicare Supplement Plan N.

Plan G and Plan N are alike in many ways, especially in the types of healthcare costs they cover. Neither Plan G nor Plan N covers the Part B deductible, which is $226 in 2023. Once you meet the deductible, however, these plans will cover most other costs. Commonly covered expenses include:

  • The first three pints of blood you receive, emergency care when traveling abroad (coverage may vary by policy). 
  • Medicare Part A and Part B coinsurance
  • Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayments. 
  • Skilled nursing facility coinsurance. 
  • Medicare Part A deductible, which is $1,600 in 2023.

Given these considerations, it’s crucial to read the fine print and understand the nuances of each plan. You may also want to seek expert guidance to help you decide which plan best meets your healthcare needs and financial situation. Remember, the key to making an informed choice is to thoroughly understand the details of the plan types before enrolling.

At CoverRight, we help beneficiaries optimize Medicare coverage. Contact us today to find a plan that’s right for your healthcare needs and budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common factors that affect the cost of Medigap plans?

The cost of Medigap plans can vary depending on several factors:

  • Age: Premiums often increase as you age.
  • Geographic Location: Different areas have varying healthcare costs, affecting Medigap premiums.
  • Plan Type: More comprehensive plans generally have higher premiums.
  • Health and Lifestyle: Your overall health status and habits like smoking can influence premiums.
  • Insurance Company: Premiums can differ even for the same plan type depending on the insurance company.

Can Medigap plan premiums change over time?

Yes, the cost of Medigap plans can fluctuate over time. The particular pricing strategy the insurance provider employs influences how they change. For example, if you’re under a community-rated method, your premium remains constant irrespective of age, but it may still rise due to inflation or changes in market conditions. In an issue-age-rated method, premiums are set according to the age you are when you buy the plan. They won’t go up just because you age, but they can increase due to other economic factors. Finally, in the attained-age-rated method, your premiums will go up both as you age and due to inflation or other financial factors.

Are there discounts or subsidies available for low-income individuals?

There are no federal subsidies for Medigap plans, but some states offer state-sponsored programs to assist low-income residents with the costs. Some insurance companies offer discounts for various reasons, such as being a non-smoker or enrolling during a promotional period. Always ask insurance providers about any available discounts or subsidies you might qualify for when shopping for a Medigap plan.

Richard Chan

Richard is the Founder of CoverRight and based in New York. He is passionate about empowering consumers to take control of their health and finances. Prior to starting CoverRight, Richard had extensive experience working in financial services with over 8 years' experience in consumer lending and investment banking.

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