What are Medicare Supplements?


The information on this page is taken from the Medicare.gov website. 

Medicare Supplements are also known as “medigap” plans.

A Medigap policy (also known as a Medicare supplement) is health insurance sold by private insurance companies to fill the “gaps” in Original Medicare Plan coverage. Medigap policies help pay some of the health care costs that the Original Medicare Plan doesn’t cover. If you are in the Original Medicare Plan and have a Medigap policy, then Medicare and your Medigap policy will pay both their shares of covered health care costs.

It’s important to compare Medigap policies because costs can vary. The benefits in any Medigap Plan A through N are the same for any insurance company. Each insurance company decides which Medigap policies it wants to sell.

Generally, when you buy a Medigap policy you must have Medicare Part A and Part B. You will have to pay the monthly Medicare Part B premium. In addition, you will have to pay a premium to the Medigap insurance company.

You and your spouse must each buy separate Medigap policies. Your Medigap policy won’t cover any health care costs for your spouse.

For more information, call Denise at 520-820-8639.  Or check out medicareblog.org.

  10 comments for “What are Medicare Supplements?

  1. Kathryn Larvinson
    December 16, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    How much do these supplements cost a month approx? Do they cover hospitalization?

  2. Editor
    December 16, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Medicare Supplements cover everything Medicare covers – and they fill the “gaps” in Medicare. Medicare generally pays 80% for your medical bills and the supplement pays the remaining 20%. If you get a Plan F Medicare Supplement you will generally have no bills to pay – because Medicare will pay its part and the supplement will pay the rest.

    A woman turning 65 can get a Medicare Supplement plan for $90 per month. This offers the best coverage because it gives you 100% coverage for healthcare bills that are paid by Medicare.

    In Tucson, Medicare Advantage plans are very popular because they have low or $0 premiums, but I say, “you get what you pay for”. You pay for a Medicare Supplement, but it is money well spent if you get sick.

  3. Odile Kulscar
    May 17, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    I am looking for a Medigap PPO. Any suggestions ? It would be greatly appreciated

  4. Editor
    May 19, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    PPO refers to a network plan (preferred provider organization). Medicare supplements work with Medicare and do not require networks. But I just remembered that some supplements called “select” plans do offer lower premiums if you go to hospitals in their network. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona offers such a plan. If you don’t travel, you might consider a “select” Medicare Supplement. Or you might consider a Medicare Advantage plan with a PPO network. Most Medicare Advantage plans are HMO’s but there are two PPO plans in Pima county. These plans allow you to use doctors and hospitals that are not in their network – but you will pay a higher co-pay than if you stay in the network.

  5. Loretta Hall
    May 29, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    When buying a Medicare Supplement plan, do insurance companies consider if you have a pre-existing condition and whether they will/will not insure you?

  6. Editor
    May 30, 2010 at 11:58 am

    When you turn 65, or you are first using your Medicare, you don’t have to answer any medical questions when you apply for a Medicare Supplement. This is called your “guaranteed issue” period. If you’ve had Medicare for a while and now you want a Medicare Supplement, you will have to answer the medical questions on the application for a Medicare Supplement.

    There are a number of scenarios where you can get a Medicare Supplement even if you have pre-existing conditions, but it would be best to talk to you to determine what your options are.

    There is a new Medicare Supplement, Plan N, which is being offered by a number of companies. As far as I know, only United of Omaha (a Mutual of Omaha company) is taking applications for this plan and not requiring medical questions to be answered. This will be a good option for people who are in Medicare Advantage plans and want to go back to Medicare and get a Supplement. Of course, people enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan cannot get out of their plan until the end of the year – except for certain circumstances.

    If you’ve had Medicare for a while, but are not enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can apply for a Medicare Supplement at any time.

  7. Nina
    November 19, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    You did not say part N had open enrollment, that might be good for my husband? tell me about the two additional medigap plans. Thank you, Nina

  8. Carlos Santana
    May 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Hi, I have a medigap plan ‘f’…purchased this when i turned 65; this insurance company raised rates for the past 2-years and now I am paying about 45% more than when I initially enrolled; I am considering cancelling my plan ‘f’ policy and going to a plan ‘g’…the cost savings for the plan ‘g’ vs plan ‘f’ is a $47/mo; the Medicare Plan ‘B’ deductible I may have to pay is $142 in 2012…which still afords me a annual savings by moving to the plan ‘g’. Does this make sense to move? What about any ‘pre-existing’ conditions…some which may have in place prior to acquiring the Plan ‘F’ policy…and some after Plan ‘F’ was purchased; I have not had any hospitilization/surgery since pre Plan ‘F’, however the knees and hips are needing some medical scrutiny as they are causing ‘pain’. I looked over the applic for the plan ‘g’ policy, and it isnt clear to me it asks questions whose answers would cause underwriting any concern. If I switch plans, are there any other issues I should be aware of? What if I moved to a ‘lower cost’ plan ‘f’ from another provider? Any issues here? No, I am not the musician with the same name.

  9. Editor
    May 16, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Are you enrolled with Mutual of Omaha? I don’t know if they will let you change from F to G without having you re-apply. You could call the customer service number on your card and ask.

    If you want to change to another lower-cost company, you can apply and see if they accept you. Generally, if you answer “yes” to any of the medical questions, you will be denied. But it doesn’t hurt to try.

  10. March 28, 2017 at 10:04 am

    My grandmother has been having some health issues recently. She is worried she won’t have enough money to cover the costs of her treatment. I didn’t realize medicare supplement plans are capable of covering a lot of the out-of-pocket costs associated with health care through a small monthly premium. I’ll be sure my grandmother knows about these benefits.

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