While Medicare is an extremely valuable resource for seniors, it does not cover all healthcare costs. Original Medicare (Part A plus Part B) leaves a variety of copays, coinsurance, and deductibles to seniors. Knowing that you might face unpredictable healthcare expenses down the road can be stressful, particularly for those with limited finances. By paying the monthly premium on a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, you can plan ahead and cover the gaps in Original Medicare.

Medicare Supplement coverage kicks in after Original Medicare pays its pre-approved amounts. Seniors with Medicare Supplement insurance pay predictable monthly premiums so that their out of pocket costs for things like copays, deductibles, and coinsurance for hospital stays and doctor’s office visits will be either lower or completely covered, depending on the plan they choose. Some plans even offer coverage for emergency healthcare costs incurred during foreign travel.

Medicare Supplement Basics

Private companies sell Medicare Supplements, but federal and state governments regulate the way that these companies operate. All companies that sell Medicare Supplements must do so through standardized plans. The plans currently available for purchase are: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N. Plan A from one company provides exactly the same coverage as plan A from another company, and so on. Only things like cost and customer service vary. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Massachusetts have different standardized plans than the rest of the states, however.

Plans C and F are being phased out and will not be sold to newly eligible Medicare recipients after January 2020. Some plans are available in High Deductible, Select, and Innovative versions, but companies are not obligated to offer these special versions of the plans. For most Medicare plans, patients can see any doctor that accepts Medicare without a referral; for a Select plan, patients must use a limited network of pre-approved doctors and hospitals rather than any Medicare doctor they wish. But, the premiums are lower, making Select plans an appealing option for seniors on a tight budget. Innovative plans generally have higher premiums than their regular plan counterparts, but they offer extras like dental or vision coverage.

Seniors who have Medicare Advantage (Part C) rather than Original Medicare may not purchase a Medicare Supplement policy unless they switch back to Original Medicare first. Moreover, Medicare Supplements no longer cover prescription drugs. Those who want prescription drug coverage can consider also adding Medicare Part D to their coverage. Part D policies can often be purchased through the same company that provides your Medicare Supplement policy.

Below you’ll find our list of the top ten companies that sell Medicare Supplement policies. You can also buyer’s guide below to find answers to the most common questions you might have about buying a Medigap policy.

A Note on Terminology

The terminology involved with Medicare can be quite confusing! Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D are not the same as Plans A, B, C, and D of Supplemental Medicare. Our guide primarily focuses on the available Medicare Supplement lettered plans.
As you search for Medicare Supplement Insurance, you will probably run across the word Medigap. Medigap and Medicare Supplement insurance are exactly the same thing and are used interchangeably.

The Top 10 Medicare Supplement Insurance Providers

ProviderAvailable PlansDiscountsNumber of States ServedSelect Options AvailableMedicare Part D also Offered
AetnaA, B, F*, High Deductible F*, N12 Percent Household DiscountAbout 30NoYes
Anthem Blue CrossA, F*, G, N (Innovative, Select, and Innovative Select versions of F*, G, and N are available)Automatic bank draft payment: $2 monthly
Annual premium payment: $48 yearly
New to Medicare: $20 monthly for a limited time
5 Percent Household Discount
Multiline Discount
11YesYes
State FarmA, B, C*, D, F*, G, NMultiline Discount46NoNo
HumanaA, F*, High Deductible F*, G, K, L, N plus “Healthy Living” versions of most plans6 Percent Online-Only Discount42 and D.C.NoYes
Mutual of OmahaA, F*, High Deductible F*, G, N12 Percent Household Discount50NoYes
United Healthcare (AARP)A, B, C*, F*, G, K, L, NEnrollment Discount (disappears over time)50 and Washington D.C.YesYes
Manhattan LifeA, B, C*, D, F*, G, M, N7 Percent-12 Percent Household Discount9+NoNo
CignaA, F*, G, N, some High Deductible OptionsHousehold Discount50NoYes
TransamericaA, F*, G, K, NHousehold Discount
Draft Premium Payment Discount
50NoNo
USAAA, B, C*, F*, NNone50 and Washington D.C.NoYes
*Plans C and F will no longer be offered after January 2020 per new regulations. Customers who already have C or F will keep it.

The table above shows which plans our top-rated companies typically offer their customers. However, it is important to note that coverage options can vary significantly from state to state. Most companies provide online search tools that will show you exactly which plans are offered in your state or even in your zip code. Companies that do not offer such online tools are always able to inform you of their coverage options over the phone during business hours.

Plans from Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin use a completely different set of plan regulations dictated by their states, which you can learn more about in the section “Understanding Nationwide Coverage.”

Aetna

Best for Medicare Expertise

Aetna, a CVS Health Company, serves about 39 million customers through a variety of health insurance plans, including plans in the Medicare Solutions division of the company. Founded in 1853 long before Medicare existed, this brand has a rich history of meeting its customer’s health needs. It currently offers five different Medicare supplement choices.

According to the online tool that allows customers to search for coverage based on their zip codes, Aetna offers supplement plans in about 30 states. The online tool can also provide pricing estimates based on the customer’s location, gender, and age. Aetna typically offers plans A, B, F, G, and N, though in select states not all plans are available

Products Offered by Aetna

Plans OfferedA, B, F, High Deductible F, N
Discounts Available12 percent household discount
Number of States ServedAbout 30
“Select” Option AvailableNo
Medicare Part D also AvailableYes

Coverage Details

Aetna offers 5 of the 10 Medicare Supplement letter plans: A, B, F, High Deductible F, and N. Customers who want especially low monthly premiums may choose the high deductible version of Plan F. All versions of plan F will no longer be offered as of January 2020, though those who purchase a Plan F before that time will be able to keep their plan.

Some of the states that Aetna covers offer all five plans, but some states only offer plan A. Depending on your location, you may need to call for plan details rather than use the online tool.

Pricing

Since Aetna serves customers in so many different states, it uses different pricing structures in different locations, in accordance with state laws. When speaking with an agent about the best plan for you, you can enquire if Aetna uses a community-rated, issue-age-rated, or attained-age-rated pricing structure in your specific state. Attained-age rated premiums are likely to rise the most over time, but they are very common. You can reach an Aetna team members with your questions by calling 844-795-3428 between 8 AM and 8 PM Monday-Friday .

Aetna gives many customers a 12 percent household discount for those living with another senior who has Aetna Medicare Supplement coverage.

The price of healthcare varies greatly from state to state and changes over time. Below you’ll find an example of what a female who does not use tobacco products and is aging into Medicare in 2019 in California might expect her premium to be for different plans.

Sample Pricing:

  • Plan A: $114.79
  • Plan B: $145.11
  • Plan F: $201.59
  • High Deductible Plan F: $44.07
  • Plan G: $149.11
  • Plan N: $102.88

Not every state offers as many plans as the example state does, and some plans cost more in different states. For example, plan A is the only plan available in Phoenix, Arizona and it costs $364.94 for that same non-smoking female aging into Medicare in the same year.

Coverage and pricing in special states

Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are all states that require specialized plans that do not conform to the letter plan system used by most states. Aetna does not currently cover these specialized states.

Why We Recommend Aetna

Aetna has a track record of community-minded business practices. The company was founded in 1853, offering life insurance and annuities at the time. Over the years, Aetna has poured funds into pressing community needs, from buying and selling bonds during both world wars, to donating to hurricane relief during disasters, to offering grants totaling $6 million in 2018 for fighting the opioid epidemic.

Not only does Aetna have a track record of community involvement and financial stability, it also has over 50 years of experience working with the evolving Medicare system. Aetna paid its first Medicare claim in 1966. With so much experience in the industry, Aetna is a reliable choice to handle your Medicare Supplement Insurance.

Additionally, Aetna’s 12 percent household discount gives its pricing a competitive edge for qualified households, making it a great choice for retired couples trying to keep their Medicare costs low.

What Customers Are Saying

Many reviewers of Aetna mention how friendly customer service representatives are. Customers point out that you may occasionally speak with representatives in overseas call centers since Aetna is a global brand, but overseas representatives are patient and helpful. They also describe getting a quote as a “no-hassle” experience.

Client Testimonials
Bill described his experience with Aetna coverage as “no questions asked, trouble-free.” (Google Reviews of Aetna Inc.)

One anonymous reviewer stated that “when I’ve called customer service they have been usually very helpful and the issues [were] resolved.” (Google Reviews of Aetna Inc.)

Anthem

Best for Variety of Discounts

One in every eight Americans trusts Anthem with his or her healthcare needs through one of the company’s many available health insurance plans. Anthem, which has existed under a few different names and merged with companies such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield, has a history dating back to 1992 and is one of the largest health benefits companies in the United States.

Offering Medicare Supplement Insurance in eleven states, Anthem carries plans that are especially convenient for consumers since many of them can be bundled with vision and dental insurance options. Buying prescription drug coverage via Medicare Part D is also simple through Anthem, making the company a smart choice for those who need multiple lines of coverage.

Anthem offers Medicare Supplement Insurance in the following states: Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Anthem sells plans A, N, G, and F, as well as some plans that are specific to Wisconsin. You can easily explore Anthem’s Medicare Supplement coverage options online at any time.

Products Offered by Anthem

Plans OfferedA, N, G, F, and Wisconsin’s Basic, Choice Standard, Choice Premium, and Choice Plus Plan or add-on Riders
Discounts ProvidedAutomatic bank draft payment: $2 monthly
Annual premium payment: $48 yearly
New to Medicare: $20 monthly for a limited time
5 percent Household Discount
1-year 5 percent Initial Eligibility Discount (limited states: Maine)
2-year premium discounts on Plan F (limited states: Colorado)
Number of States Served11
“Select” Option AvailableYes
Medicare Part D also AvailableYes

Coverage Details

In addition to offering regular versions of Medicare Supplement plans A, F, N, and G, Anthem also offers Select, Innovative, and Innovative Select versions of F, G, and N. Innovative versions include vision coverage, and Select versions offer lower premiums with the restriction of requiring patients to use a network of care. Innovative Select is simply a combination of the two. In Wisconsin, Anthem uses a different plan structure according to state law.

For those interested in also adding prescription drug coverage to their healthcare plan, Anthem offers versions of Medicare Part D in most states.

Pricing

Due to differing state laws, in the majority of states that it covers, Anthem adjusts premium prices annually based on increases in age (“attained-age-rated”). A few states in which Anthem operates do have community-rated policies, which means that prices can not increase based on age, though they can increase based on inflation and other factors.

To better understand the laws and policies governing Anthem’s price increases in your state, read the “Outline of Coverage” for your state. Anthem usually provides this document under “Plan Documents” when you search for a Medicare Supplement plan by zip code using the online company’s search tool. You can also speak with an agent for price structure clarification Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 8 PM at 855-679-8810.

Premium rates from Anthem vary according to location. The plan most affordable in one state can sometimes be the most costly in another state. For example, using data from Anthem’s search tool, we found that for a woman aging into Medicare in 2019 in Denver, Colorado, plan A premiums are the lowest available, but in Hartford, Connecticut, plan A premiums are much higher than other available plans.

Plan A and Plan G are the two plans most commonly offered by Anthem, so we have collected data on the premiums of these plans in several different states and averaged their costs. All prices are based on Anthem’s online quotes for a female aging into Medicare in the summer of 2019. For Plan A we collected data from 10 different states and for plan G we collected data from 9 different states.

Sample Pricing for a female aging into Medicare in 2019:

  • The average cost of Plan A: $175.50.
  • The average cost of Plan G: $141.54

On average, Plan G offers better coverage for a more affordable premium, though this is not true in all cases or for every state.

Coverage and pricing in special states

In Wisconsin, plans are different than in other states. The Wisconsin Basic plan provides limited coverage for the gaps that Medicare Part A and B leave, but customizing with additional riders or choosing another plan can offer you different levels of protection. A rider is a single-item coverage improvement that can be added to the plan for an extra fee. A popular rider is the Part A Deductible, but there are several options.

Available Wisconsin plans include Choice Standard, Choice Premium, and Choice Plus. You can also add optional vision and dental coverage.

According to Anthem’s website, the price of Wisconsin plans for a female aging into Medicare in 2019 with the “New to Medicare” discount are as follows:

Wisconsin Sample Pricing:

  • Choice Standard: $69.23
  • Basic: $72.72
  • Choice Premium: $106.14
  • Choice Plus: $117.75
  • Riders: $1.23-$23.19 and one rider that removed $31.43 from premium by reducing coverage

These prices would be different for different ages and genders. Using the basic plan plus one or two riders allows you to customize your coverage and keep your costs low by not paying for coverage categories that aren’t important to you.

Discounts

Anthem offers far more discounts than most Medicare Supplement companies. Adjusting your payment method and frequency can be an easy way to save. Those who schedule automatic bank draft payments for their premium can save $2 each month, or up to $24 a year. For those who can afford to pay their premiums in an annual lump sum, the yearly savings are double that at $48 a year. Those paying annually can pay by mail or by automatic bank draft.

In addition to discounts based on payment type, seniors can also receive a 5percent discount if more than one person in the household purchases a Medicare Supplement plan from Anthem. That 5percent can add up quickly. Hypothetically, if both seniors in a household had monthly premiums of $170 (not an uncommon premium rate, especially for plan F or G), the total yearly household cost of Medicare Supplements would be $4,128, and a 5percent discount would reduce that by $206.40.

Some discounts from Anthem are state-specific. For example, some Maine residents are eligible for an “Initial-Eligibility Discount” discount of 5percent. This discount disappears after a year, so long term costs should not be calculated based on this discount, but it is a great perk during that first year of coverage. Another state-specific discount is the two-year premium discount on Plan F in Colorado. When purchasing a plan it’s always a good idea to ask for a full explanation of discount eligibility and any special offers that may be running in your state.

Why We Recommend Anthem

Aside from the company’s 27-year history of providing quality healthcare, what we like most about Anthem is its reasonable prices and range of plan options. It’s not uncommon to find premiums from Anthem that are lower than $150, although each plan, location, and person is different, and some plans cost significantly more. Anthem gives several different choices of plans in most states, so you won’t feel like your options are limited if you shop Anthem plans.

In addition to reasonable starting prices, Anthem offers many discounts that can significantly reduce the cost of your policy, especially if you qualify for multiple discounts. Some companies only offer one discount (often the household discount), but Anthem routinely offers four different discounts, plus two others for particular states.

What Customers Are Saying

Satisfied customers mention how patient and thorough Anthem staff are. Online reviewers of all different kinds of Anthem plans mention that the level of care you receive will depend on the coverage that you purchase. Because of federal and state regulations, those purchasing Medicare Supplement Packages will receive standardized coverage.

Client Testimonials
Liza stated in a Google Review, “The people are friendly and helpful” (2018).

Robert L. in Wisconsin wrote a Better Business Bureau review of Anthem, saying of his caseworker, “she has kept her word […] and took the usual frustration of finding the right specialist to an easy level” (October 10, 2017).

State Farm

Best for Finding a Local Agent

State Farm, perhaps best known for automobile insurance, provides Medicare Supplements in 46 states. Many cities in America have multiple State Farm agent offices, so finding a friendly local connection to this large company is easy. Walking into a State Farm location and meeting an agent is a great option, although the online quote finder is also easy to navigate.

The kinds of Medicare Supplement plans that State Farm offers varies by location. Most states offer A, D, N, G, C, & F, and some also offer Plan B. You will find the online quote tool that State Farm offers very simple and helpful to determine which plans are offered in your area. Inputting your date of birth, gender, and sometimes other details like smoking status or whether or not you qualify for guaranteed issue, you can see a full breakdown of costs. The information needed to get an online quote varies by state but is usually no more than three or four questions.

Products Offered by State Farm

Plans OfferedA, B, C, D, F, G, N
Discounts ProvidedMultiline discount for having multiple insurance policies (of any kind) through the company
Number of States Served46-all except Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island
“Select” Option AvailableNo
Medicare Part D also AvailableNo

Coverage Details

State Farm offers Plans A, B, C, D, F, G, and N in many states. Plan B is not available in all states, but the number of plans offered even without B is still a great selection, representing the range of coverage options available. 2019 is the last year that Plans C and F are going to be available. All letter plans conform to national and state standards, which grants peace of mind for customers.

State Farm does not carry Select, Innovative, or High Deductible versions of plans. It also does not offer Medicare Part D. Since Medicare Supplement plans do not cover prescription drug costs, those who want extra prescription coverage will need to obtain Part D benefits from another provider.

Pricing

The pricing structure used by State Farm varies according to location. In some cases, premiums may increase with the policyholder’s age. This information is typically not available on the State Farm website, but you can ask your local agent for price structure details.

At least in some states, men purchasing Medicare Supplement coverage from State Farm may pay about $5-$10 more per month on premiums than women do. The price difference varies according to plan and location, however, and is usually not dramatic.

We looked up premium costs for a female in Boulder County, Colorado during the open enrollment time period, to give readers a sample of the kinds of prices that State Farm offers. The following prices will not necessarily be offered in other locations or in all circumstances.

Sample Prices:

  • A: $108.88
  • C: $164.22
  • D: $134.98
  • F: $165.83
  • G: $135.15
  • N: $102.51

State Farm Medicare Supplement premiums will be higher in some states. For example, in DeKalb County, Georgia, most plans for the same person cost about $30 more than they do in Colorado. In Georgia, Plan A costs $130.47 and Plan F costs $197.79.

Coverage and pricing in special states

Wisconsin and Minnesota plans are completely different than the plans offered in other states. We’ve included pricing details for them based on information State Farm’s website. These sample prices are based on the assumption that the recipient is a female aging into Medicare in 2019. Prices within states may vary by county.

Wisconsin

  • Basic (Base) Premium: $107.62

You can add four different riders if you wish, each of which increases the monthly premium by the amount stated below.

  • Medicare Part A Deductible: $27.79
  • Foreign Travel Emergency: $1.10
  • Medicare Part B Excess Charges: $1.10
  • Additional Home Health Care: $2.55

Minnesota

  • Basic: $179.95
  • Extended Basic: $523.60
  • $20 and $50 Part B Copayment Plan (Plan N Equivalent): $179.94

If you’d like to discuss prices and plans with a local agent, simply visit State Farm’s website, click “Find an Agent”, and input your zip code to find a local agent’s contact information.

Discounts

When you sign up for State Farm Medicare Supplement Insurance, consider whether you’d also like to explore other forms of insurance from State Farm. If you bundle two or more policies with State Farm you can receive dramatic discounts on your monthly premiums through the Multiline Discount.

Why we recommend State Farm

We recommend State Farm for many reasons, the foremost being that customers do not need to rely on a 1-800 number to connect with the company. Local agents provide a personal point of contact, and customers can call them directly with questions about coverage, price, or other issues that may arise. Local State Farm agents are also usually very easy to find online.

State Farm is a perfect Medicare Supplement choice for those who already have auto, home, renters, life, or any other form of insurance from State Farm. State Farm has long offered a “multiline” discount for those with multiple insurance policies through the company. Discount amounts can vary but are likely to be larger the more State Farm policies you have.

Those who choose State Farm gain the added benefit of being able to manage claims, payments, and multiple policies through an online account. The online system has a very simple, clean look that is easy to navigate.

What Customers Are Saying

The offices of State Farm agents tend to get 4 and 5-star ratings on Google thanks to the company’s dedication to quality customer service. Customers use words like “professional” and “courteous” and mention receiving no-pressure guidance.

Client Testimonials
Kate H. in Oregon wrote on Google Reviews, “I know I can reach out, and get an immediate response which is really important to me. The high level of customer service is invaluable.”

Craige S. M. in Hawaii commented on Google Reviews, “I took my business here and finally am treated like more than just another number. My only regret is not making the move sooner!”

Humana

Best for Rare and Specialized Plans

Humana, the third-largest health insurance provider in the United States, offers Medicare Supplement plans in about 40 states. The company’s history reaches back to 1961, although it officially took on its current name in 1972. Humana cares about managing its business in an ethical way, focusing on investing in communities and even publishing a Corporate Responsibility Report every year online.

In its Medicare division, Humana offers Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D, and many different forms of Medicare Supplement Insurance, including Innovative forms that have extras like vision and dental coverage. You can quickly and easily find a Humana Medicare Supplement plan that suits your needs by searching on Humana’s own website.

Products Offered by Humana

Plans OfferedA, F, High Deductible F, G, K, L, N plus “Healthy Living” (Innovative) versions of most plans
Discounts Provided6 percent Online-Only Monthly Discount
Number of States ServedAbout 40, including specialized coverage in Minnesota,Massachusetts, and Wisconsin
“Select” Option AvailableNo
Medicare Part D also AvailableYes

Coverage Details

About 40 states have Humana Medicare Supplement Plans, but occasionally online information is not posted. In states such as Idaho, New York, Colorado, and Florida, you may be prompted to call a customer service line for coverage details. Most states, however, list premium prices online.

The availability of plans in states varies quite a bit, but in general, plans A, F, G, K, L, and N are available, as well as some high deductible versions of these plans. Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin plans are structured differently.

Like all insurance providers, Humana will stop offering plan F to new customers beginning in 2020 due to new laws. Those who select a Plan F before it is phased out will be able to keep it.

While all Medicare Supplement plans must conform to minimum standards, insurance companies are allowed to offer “Innovative” versions with certain kinds of extra coverage, such as dental or vision. Humana calls these “Healthy Living” plans. Humana does not offer Select plans (plans that have lower premiums but require in-network care only).

When you take into account all the different High Deductible and Healthy Living options that Humana offers, some Humana states carry as many as 14 different Medicare Supplement options. Humana also separately sells Medicare Part D for those interested in adding prescription drug coverage to their healthcare plan.

Pricing

Humana pricing is readily available online in most states, although you can also call 888-204-4062 to speak with a sales agent. If you do wish to search for a price online, you can enter your zip code, gender, date of birth, the start date of your Original Medicare coverage, and the month you want your Medicare Supplement coverage to begin into the search tool. In some states, you may also be asked about your tobacco use. Men pay slightly more than women do for Medicare Supplement Coverage from Humana.

When viewing pricing on Humana’s website, you will see figures for both “preferred” and regular rates. The preferred rate should be the rate you receive if you apply for the policy during your “open enrollment” period in the first six months that you have Medicare Part B. You can read more about open enrollment rules in our resource guide.

We collected a sample of Humana pricing from Juneau, Alaska to give you an idea of possible Humana prices. These prices are based on a 65-year-old woman eligible for coverage in 2019. Not everyone who wants Supplemental Coverage will receive the same quotes, and different locations have different rates.

Sample Prices:

  • A: $105.47
  • B: $114.61
  • C: $130.64
  • F: $133.27
  • High Deductible F: $47.66
  • K: $62.62
  • L: $88.23

Prices can vary quite a bit by state. For example, we also looked at Premiums in Washington, D.C. and found that comparable plans are typically $10-$20 more in D.C. than in Juneau. Other states may have even lower rates than Juneau.

Coverage and pricing in special states

Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin have specialized coverage according to state laws. We’ve listed their pricing for you here, based on a female nonsmoker aging into medicare in 2019 in the states’ capitals. Coverage in your county and for your situation may differ from our sample prices.

Minnesota

  • Basic Plan: $226.88
  • 50 Percent Coverage: $124.25
  • 75 Percent Coverage: $173.51
  • Copay Plan: $225.74
  • Extended Basic: $407.37

Massachusetts

  • Core Plan: $134.23
  • Supplement Plan 1: $213.97
  • Healthy Living versions: Add about $10

Wisconsin

  • High Deductible Plan: $55.54
  • 50 Percent Plan: $82.05
  • 75 Percent Plan:
  • 25 Percent Plan (also called 75 Percent Plan): $110.21
  • Basic: $121.41
  • Healthy Living Versions: Add about $20

Discounts

Humana rewards tech-savvy customers with a 6 percent discount if they complete their entire insurance application process online.

Why We Recommend Humana

Humana is an ideal company for those seeking rare or specialized plans. High deductible options, plans like K and L, and innovative plans can be difficult to find from some companies, but Humana offers all of these in most states. Humana is also a convenient choice since you can get Medicare Part D from the company at the same time. Some customers may even be eligible for a Low Income Subsidy rider for their Medicare Part D.

Humana also offers resources like the member login on the MyHumana app. Using the app, members can conveniently access coverage details, ID card, and other important insurance details from their phones or tablets.

What Customers Are Saying

Happy Humana customers mention that Humana has “stepped up to the plate” regarding customer service. Even customers who initially experienced problems with enrollment later mention being satisfied. Customers write appreciatively about the vision coverage Humana offers (something that Medicare Supplement patients can get with some plans). Some customers mention that Humana employees go out of their way to connect them to the services they would not otherwise be aware of.

Client Testimonials
Marc in Las Vegas wrote that Humana was “refreshingly helpful and courteous” (Google Reviews, 2019)

Kenneth in San Antonio Texas said, “Excellent agency and staff. Very helpful with information and advice” (Google Reviews, 2019).

Mutual of Omaha

Best Mutual Company Offering Medicare Supplement Coverage

Mutual of Omaha has been providing Medicare Supplement insurance to its members since 1966 when Medicare began. As a mutual company, Mutual of Omaha takes pride in serving its customers’ interests rather than the interests of Wall Street investors.

Efficiency matters, which is why Mutual of Omaha pays 98 percent of its Medicare claims within 12 hours. The brand’s efficiency and history make it a smart choice for anyone with Original Medicare who wants to fill his or her coverage gaps.

With coverage for plans A, F, High Deductible F, G, and N in 50 states, Mutual of Omaha has a Medicare Supplement policy for almost anyone. This company can also provide Medicare Part D in a separate policy for those concerned about getting prescription drug coverage.

Products Offered by Mutual of Omaha

Plans OfferedA, F, High Deductible F, G, N
Discounts Provided12 percent household discount (terms vary by state)
Number of States Served50
“Select” Option AvailableNo
Medicare Part D also AvailableYes

Coverage Details

Mutual of Omaha’s primary Medicare Supplement plans are F, High Deductible F, G, and N. This brand also offers plan A, but the information for plan A can sometimes be difficult to find online. If you’re interested in plan A, you may want to call an agent. Mutual of Omaha also sells Prescription Drug plans (Medicare Part D), making them a convenient provider for both kinds of Medicare coverage.

Both versions of plan F are being phased out of the Medicare Supplement system, and in January of 2020 Mutual of Omaha will stop offering these plans to those newly eligible for Medicare. Those who sign up for plan F prior to that, however, will keep their coverage. Plan F is a very full coverage option, but plan G offers a similar level of coverage for slightly less and can be a good alternative for those interested in F who will not be eligible to purchase it.

Pricing

Pricing from Mutual of Omaha can be easily obtained by clicking on the products menu, selecting Medicare Supplement Insurance, clicking the “Get Started” button and filling in information like date of birth, gender and zip code. If you do not want to search online, you can also call 888-989-4705 Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 8 PM.

When you get your quote you will see that a 12 percent household discount is offered for those living with someone 60 or older for a year or more or for anyone living with a spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner.

Pricing on the same Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement policy may vary as much as $60 or more from one location to another. For a female aging into Medicare in 2019, Plan F can cost $209.10 in Tampa, Florida, but the same plan will cost $147.08 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Since there is so much variation, one set of numbers cannot accurately represent the cost of coverage in all locations.

When looking at the prices for a female aging into Medicare in 2019, we collected data from five different locations: Alaska, California, Arizona, Nebraska, and Florida. While not representative of the full range of low and high premiums in the US, this collection does include states from a variety of regions. We calculated the averages for these prices.

Sample averages of premiums from five states:

  • Average of F: $184.76
  • Average High Deductible F: $53.48
  • Average of G: $140.74
  • Average N: $117.87

When shopping with Mutual of Omaha, it’s important to remember that the pricing structure your policy falls under largely depends on state laws. In many states, companies are allowed to increase the cost of premiums annually to account for the rising cost of healthcare associated with aging. Even if you are in a state that does not allow such “attained age” pricing structures, your premium can increase due to inflation. The “Cost of Medigap” section below provides more information on pricing regulations.

Coverage and pricing in special states

Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin each have their own standardized plan systems. Mutual of Omaha does not provide quotes for these states online, so those who are interested in coverage will need to contact an agent.

Why We Recommend Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha has a reputation for communicating transparently with its customers. This company delivers quality Medicare Supplement coverage, in part because it has been working with the Medicare system for over 50 years. The fact that Mutual of Omaha shares profits with its members rather than with Wall Street makes them very accountable to their customers.

In addition to the company’s extensive experience, Mutual of Omaha proves a great insurance choice because of its generous 12 percent household discount. Some insurance companies require that two or more seniors from the same household purchase Medicare Supplement insurance, but Mutual of Omaha does not. In most states, the only qualifier for getting the household discount is living with a spouse, civil union partner, or domestic partner or living with anyone over the age of 60 for a year or more.

What Customers Are Saying

Many customers express gratitude for their long term relationship with Mutual of Omaha. A few reviewers express regret over switching to other companies that ultimately disappointed them in an effort to save money. Customers also mention that letting Mutual of Omaha deal with their Medicare coverage gives them peace of mind.

Client Testimonials
Lynn from Kennesaw, GA wrote that “Mutual of Omaha has covered everything that Medicare did not. […] I have Plan G and I have not met the deductible yet. I now have plan G and have only paid $54 so far this year” (2018).

Robin of Rockaway Park, NY wrote “I have 30 years’ experience with Mutual of Omaha and I trust them. They are very affordable and easy to contact” (2019).

United Healthcare

Best for AARP Members

United Healthcare partners with AARP to meet the healthcare needs of retired seniors all over the nation. Plans A, B, C, F, G, K, L, and N are all available, and you can purchase in-network versions of some of these plans for a lower premium. With coverage in 50 states and D.C., United Healthcare can meet anyone’s Medicare Supplement needs, though the exact plans offered vary from state to state. To purchase a plan with United Healthcare, you must already be an AARP member.

Purchasing Medicare Supplement insurance through United Healthcare includes many perks, such as 24/7 access to a registered nurse helpline, discounts on YMCA fitness memberships, and access to wellness coaching over the phone. United Healthcare offers quotes online through AARP’s website, making it easy to compare the cost of these policies to other companies’ options.

Products Offered by UnitedHealthcare

Plans OfferedA, B, C, F, G, K, L, N
Discounts ProvidedEnrollment Discount (disappears over time)
Number of States Served50 plus Washington D.C.
“Select” Option AvailableYes
Medicare Part D also AvailableYes

Coverage Details

United Healthcare offers eight out of the ten standardized Medicare Supplement plans. The plans available are A, B, C, F, G, K, L, N. United Healthcare also offers special in-network versions of some plans with lower premiums.

In-network programs provide lower premiums for customers who agree to receive coverage within a network of pre-approved doctors and hospitals. Many companies refer to such in-network plans as “Select” but United Healthcare usually just designates these plans with a superscript “1” above the plan name. Plan C most commonly available in an in-network version, though the availability of plans varies by state.

Those interested in also adding prescription drug coverage to their Medicare coverage can purchase a Medicare Part D policy through United Healthcare at the same time that they purchase a Medicare Supplement. Looking into adding Part D makes sense for many seniors since neither Original Medicare nor Medicare Supplement plans cover prescriptions.

Pricing

Finding prices online from UnitedHealthcare is easy through the AARP website. If you would rather call and speak with a sales agent over the phone, you can call 800-850-6807 from 8 AM to 8 PM Monday through Friday.

The pricing structure that United Healthcare uses for your policy will vary by the state you live in. In some states, an enrollment discount may apply to your policy. Depending on your age when you first enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan, you may start with as much as a 35 percent discount on your policy. With each year that goes by, your discount will be reduced by 3 percent until it disappears.

State prices can vary dramatically due to differing local laws and health care costs. Prices also change based on gender, age, and tobacco use. While the prices listed below do not represent every available plan or the cost of insurance for all seniors in all states, they can give you an idea of what kinds of prices to expect.

Price samples for a female, nonsmoker, aging into medicare in 2019:

 Plan APlan FPlan GPlan KPlan N
Hawaii*$92.80$145.60$123.52$42.88N/A
Colorado*$79.20$154.88$125.76$37.28$98.40
New York$171.25$308.25$270.00$80.00$200.25
*Includes the enrollment discount. Your rate will be higher if you do not qualify for the discount.

Coverage and pricing in special states

Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have opted to create their own standardized Medicare Supplement plan systems. Each system is a little different, though they share some common language. In these systems, there’s typically a low and a high level coverage option. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, consumers have the option of purchasing the basic plan but adding single items of additional coverage that are normally found in the full coverage option. These add-ons are called riders, and are typically inexpensive on their own.

Massachusetts

  • Core Plan: $111.00
  • Supplement Plan 1: $199.25

Minnesota

  • Basic Plan: $167.25
  • Extended Basic Plan: $221.00
  • Available Riders: Between $5-$41

Wisconsin

  • Basic Plan with Copayments: $84.64
  • Basic Plan: $123.52
  • Riders: Between $2-$17

Why We Recommend United Healthcare

Many seniors already use and trust services and resources that AARP provides, contracts with, or endorses. Using an insurance provider that contracts through AARP can give you peace of mind. It can also simplify the process of finding insurance for those who are already familiar with AARP’s website and customer service. AARP’s online pricing tool makes comparing prices easy.

United Healthcare itself holds contracts with over 1 million physicians across America, which makes this company an especially great choice for those looking for a cost-effective in-network plan. The brand also invests in health studies, showing a long-term interest in improving the lives of those it serves. UnitedHealthcare cares about making healthcare services transparent and accessible to its members. The company even crafted a “Member Bill of Rights and Responsibilities” that clarifies how insurance works for its members.

Another perk of shopping United healthcare is the number of plans the company offers. With eight of the ten possible plans plus some in-network variations of those plans available, it’s easy to find what you need from UnitedHealthcare.

What Customers Are Saying

Happy reviewers describe interactions with phone representatives that were customer-focused and say that representatives were able to accurately and patiently explain coverage. Those using UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare-related services that were recommended by AARP mention that they have not experienced denials of service.

Client Testimonials
Elizabeth C. In Centennial, Colorado wrote, “words cannot describe how kind the staff at United Healthcare has been to me” (Google Reviews, 2018).

Manhattan Life

Best Coverage in Uncommon Locations

Manhattan Life has offered insurance policies since 1850 and is one of the longest continuously operating insurance companies in the United States. This company currently offers Medicare Supplement plans in nine states as well as in Puerto Rico, where most other insurance companies do not operate.

Plans typically available from Manhattan Life are A, C, F, G, and N, but some states may also offer plans B, D, and M. Additional plans and states may also be available through affiliated brands Western United Life and Family Life.

Products Offered by Manhattan Life

Plans OfferedA, B, C, D, F, G, N, M
Discounts Provided7 percent to 12 percent Household Discount
Number of States Served20+
“Select” Option AvailableNo
Medicare Part D also AvailableNo

Coverage Details

Manhattan Life offers Medicare Supplement coverage in Arizona, Oregon, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Affiliated brands Western United Life and Family Life also sell policies in other states, so if Manhattan Life cannot serve you, another company owned by the brand likely still can. When calling Manhattan Life, you can inquire which of the three related companies offers coverage in your state.

The plans Manhattan Life offers are A, B, C, D, F, G, N, M, but not every plan will be offered in every state. In Wisconsin, a different plan structure is used according to state law. When you call an agent, you can enquire about the Basic Plan, High Deductible Plans, and Riders.

Manhattan Life and its affiliates do not offer high deductible or select versions of its plans. It also does not offer Medicare Part D. Those seeking prescription drug coverage will need to find it through another company.

Pricing

Manhattan Life does not give quotes for insurance policies online. Those interested in prices should fill out the “Have an Agent Contact Me” form. When an agent contacts you, you’ll need to supply personal information such as location, age, gender, when your Medicare Parts A and B coverage began, and your tobacco use habits. The exact questions the agent asks you may be impacted by the state in which you live. When you speak with an agent, enquire if the household discount applies to your circumstances.

If you do not wish to use the contact form online, you can also call 800-877-7703, which is the Medicare Supplement line for Manhattan Life, Family Life, and Western United Life.

Why We Recommend Manhattan Life

Manhattan Life offers the trustworthiness of a company that’s been handling insurance claims for almost 170 years. When you enquire about Medicare Insurance plans from Manhattan Life, you will have a great range of choices.

With three related brands, a generous household discount, coverage in over 20 states and a territory, and several different plans to choose from, many seniors will find just what they are looking for with Manhattan Life. Residents of Puerto Rico will find this company especially convenient since many other companies do not offer coverage there.

What Customers Are Saying

Surveyed customers of Manhattan Life often mention specific employees who helped them over the phone. Seniors who sought help with finding a Medicare Supplement plan describe those who helped them as exceptional, intelligent, and supportive. Customers appreciate agents for the way they describe plans thoroughly.

Client Testimonials
Connie in Illinois commented that the representative who helped her was “very knowledgeable about all different plan levels and helped us find what was best of our needs” (July 2, 2019).

Joyce in Tennessee wrote, “My husband signed up for his Medicare Supplement last year when he turned 65. After seeing his policy work so well for him, I knew as I turned 65 that I also wanted to sign up with Manhattan Life too! It was so easy to do and very reasonably priced” (July 24, 2019)

Cigna

Best for Included Extras

As a worldwide insurance company, Cigna has the resources and expertise to offer Medicare Supplement insurance in all 50 states. This brand is proud to provide coverage for plans A, F, High Deductible F, G, and N, but its service goes beyond just the regulated plans. Choosing Cigna for your Medicare Supplement coverage gives you access to special member discounts on other services and attentive customer service.

Products Offered by Cigna

Plans OfferedA, F, High Deductible F, G, N
Discounts ProvidedHousehold Premium Discount*
Number of States Served50 states and Washington D.C
“Select” Option AvailableNo
Medicare Part D also AvailableYes
*not available in all states.

Coverage Details

Cigna offers plans A, F, High Deductible F, G, and N, though not every plan is available in every state. Customers should know that some plans from Cigna are underwritten by American Retirement Life Insurance Company and Loyal American Life Insurance Company. The call that you receive after requesting a quote may be from an agent from one of these companies. Cigna does not offer in-network versions of its plans. For all Cigna plans, you can visit any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare.

With coverage options in all 50 states and Washington D.C., this company has a plan for anyone, even in states like Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Minnesota that have limited coverage from other companies. These three states have unique plan structures, each a little different from the other. These plans are covered in our buyers guide.

Just like Original Medicare, Medicare Supplement plans never cover prescription drugs. Cigna offers Medicare Part D plans that do cover prescription drugs, so bundling your drug coverage plan with your Medicare Supplement plan is simple.

Pricing

Cigna does not make its pricing available online. By filling out the information requested on the Get a Free Quote tool, you can start the process of finding the right plan for your needs. After you fill out this form, an agent will contact you to discuss the Medicare Supplement options in your state. Alternatively, you may also call 877-895-4619 to start the process of getting a quote. Cigna offers household premium discounts in many states.

Why We Recommend Cigna

Cigna is trusted by 95 million customers worldwide to cover their medical claims. In addition to paying claims for Medicare Supplement insurance plans, Cigna provides extra perks like mobile apps, online resources, a household discount in most states, a health information line, and a healthy rewards program that provides discounts on fitness memberships, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and more.

What Customers Are Saying

Customers mention that Cigna provides coverage and customer service above and beyond what other companies offer. Cigna members praise the care that phone representatives take to make plan details clear.

Client Testimonials
Katheryn wrote, “I was absolutely amazed and so impressed with their service- I highly recommend to others.” ( 2018, Trust Pilot)

Bianca commented that “every time I call about a claim I don’t understand, a representative will take the time to explain everything, sometimes multiple times until I fully understand” (2018, BBB).

Transamerica

Best for Retirement Resources

Transamerica started as a bank in San Francisco in 1904. It has grown in the decades since, and now offers a variety of insurance and financial products. With coverage in 50 states, anyone within the United States who qualifies can take advantage of Transamerica’s standardized Medicare Supplement plans. Plans A, F, G, K, and N are available in most states, though not all states offer the same plans.

Friendly and attentive customer service representatives at Transamerica are always happy to familiarize you with all Medicare Supplement plans over the phone. With Transamerica’s long connection to the financial world, it can be a great place to get the health coverage you need while also taking exploring the retirement resources and products that Transamerica offers.

Products Offered by Transamerica

Plans OfferedA, F, G, K, N, and specialized plans in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin
Discounts ProvidedDraft premium payment discount
Early Application Discount
Number of States Served50
“Select” Option AvailableNo
Medicare Part D also AvailableNo

Coverage Details

Transamerica keeps its selection of plans simple, offering five of the possible ten standardized plans. As with all companies, Transamerica is phasing out plan F at the beginning of 2020, but those who already have coverage with Plan F can keep it. The availability of any plan may depend on your location, though generally, at least A and G will be available everywhere.

In Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts specialized plans are offered. If you live in one of these states, you can discuss your best options with an agent.

Transamerica does not provide in-network or high deductible versions of its plans, and it also does not offer Medicare Part D.

Pricing

Transamerica is one of four companies on our list that does not provide quotes online. Those who want to compare Transamerica prices to the prices of other companies should call and speak with a customer service representative at (866) 205-9120.

Transamerica plans are offered under differing pay structures according to state laws. Some pay structures allow prices to increase with age, so be sure to ask what pay structure is used in your state.

Transamerica customers may be eligible for a Draft Premium Discount if they sign up to have their premiums auto-withdrawn monthly. Those who apply before they turn 65 may also be eligible for an Early Application Discount. On the phone, you can ask if either of these discounts apply for your location and situation. Some forms of discount are temporary, so you may want to ask if the discount has a time-limit.

Why We Recommend Transamerica

Transamerica’s national coverage makes this company’s Medicare Supplement plans accessible to all seniors. Their phone staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and the company has a great history of customer satisfaction. Those who already use other Transamerica financial and insurance products will find adding another policy from the same company simple. Those who explore Medicare Supplement coverage with Transamerica have the added benefit of taking advantage of two different discounts.

What Customers Are Saying

Long-term customers mention reasonable rates and efficient customer service are the reasons they are happy to have Medicare Supplement coverage through Transamerica. Many customers even mention that they have multiple kinds of policies with the company, indicating that they trust Transamerica with both financial and health needs.

Client Testimonials
Robert from Utah commented “I have 7 different accounts with Transamerica and they have been great to work with over the years! My wife and I started our first account 11 years ago and have been impressed by their customer service” (Consumer Affairs, 2019).

USAA

Best for Service Members

Since 1922, active duty and retired members of the military and their families have trusted USAA for insurance, banking, and investment solutions. As a company exclusively for service members (and select Federal employees), USAA understands the unique circumstances that you and your family have faced with moves, deployments, and other challenges of military life. As you become a senior and enter retirement, USAA can continue to help you navigate your next set of challenges, including finding a Medicare Supplement plan that works for you.

With coverage in 50 states plus the District of Columbia, you can obtain coverage with USAA no matter where you spend your retirement. If you already have a relationship with USAA because you use the company’s car insurance or some other service, you will find adding a Medicare Supplement policy especially easy. Even If you’re new to USAA, however, signing up for Medicare Supplement insurance with one of the friendly agents will be a simple process that will open the door not only to healthcare savings but also to many other services and perks available to members.

Products Offered by USAA

Plans OfferedA, B, C, F, N
Discounts ProvidedNone
Number of States Served50 and Washington D.C.
“Select” Option AvailableNo
Medicare Part D also AvailableYes

Coverage Details

USAA sells Medicare Supplement coverage in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. With plans A, B, C, F, and N all available, customers have a variety of low, medium, and high coverage options. Keep in mind that starting in 2020, plans C and F will no longer be sold to patients new to Medicare, though those who already have coverage can keep their plans C and F. USAA does not sell special versions of plans such as High Deductible, Select, or Innovative options.

You can also buy Medicare Part D coverage through USAA. Adding part D from the same company is convenient and can give you that extra prescription drug coverage that you may need if you regularly take medications that would otherwise strain your budget.

Pricing

For the most part, USAA does not provide prices online. The company does state as a sample price that for a 65-year-old non-smoker living in San Antonio, Texas in 2019, the monthly premium for part N would be $89. Since the year, age, location, chosen plan, and other factors influence price, this sample cannot be taken as representative of all Medicare Supplement costs from USAA.

To find information on the cost of premiums in your area, you can call 800-515-8687. If you are already a USAA member, you may also be able to get started viewing policy prices using your member login.

Why We Recommend USAA

No other company has so much specialized experience helping service members with their insurance needs. With almost 100 years of experience and a stable company history, USAA can take your claims and pay them out in a timely and competent manner as dictated by the Medicare Supplement plan that you choose.

What Customers Are Saying

Long term USAA customers use words like “polite” and “pleasant” to describe USAA employees. Customers also mention that their claims are paid promptly.

A common theme in the reviews is that no matter the size of the bills incurred, USAA coverage comes through without a hitch. Many members express that they have been covered by the company for a decade or more and that they intend to stick with USAA for life.

Client Testimonials
Andrew D. wrote in a Better Business Bureau Review that “USAA Insurance really demonstrates that you can operate in a moral and efficient manner as an insurance company” (2018).

Frank A. wrote that “I’ve never had an issue with them. I’ve always been able to contact USAA when I’ve had a concern or accident; I intend to be a customer for life” (BBB 2019).

Buyer’s Guide

Image of physician and patient

As a consumer, you have many companies and plans to choose from for your Medicare Supplement insurance. The following three steps can help you simplify your choice.

1. Determine if Medigap Is Right for You

Medicare Supplement plans are best for seniors with Original Medicare who want to make their medical costs more predictable. Medicare Supplements are offered through private companies and are not subsidized by the government, so you must have room in your budget for an additional monthly payment.

Still, signing up for a Medicare Supplement plan can reduce your yearly healthcare costs by covering things like deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments that Original Medicare does not cover. In most cases, you will not need referrals to see a doctor as long as the doctor takes Medicare. Seniors who love to travel may find Medicare Supplements especially valuable since many of them cover emergency medical care during international travel.

You must have Medicare Parts A and B to qualify for a Medicare Supplement. If you currently have Part C (Medicare Advantage) but you are switching to Original Medicare, you will be allowed to add a Medicare Supplement policy. Your insurance agent will be able to walk you through the steps necessary for this transition.

In most cases, Medicare Supplements are for seniors 65 and older. If you are younger than 65 but have Original Medicare due to a disability, you may also be able to purchase a Medicare Supplement, depending on state laws.

You may not buy a Medicare Supplement if:

  • You do not have/are not switching to Original Medicare
  • You have Medicaid (in most cases)

2. Narrow Your Search to a Few Plans

Using the table and explanations of different standardized plans that we have included above, decide which plans could work for you. Many plans only differ from each other in one or two coverage categories, so you may have some flexibility in your choice. Two or three plans on the list may all be a reasonable fit for your lifestyle. Your coverage choice will be influenced by your current health, anticipated healthcare needs, how high of a premium you can afford, and what companies operate in your area.

Full coverage plans like C, G, and F usually have the highest premiums. A higher premium can mean predictably low out-of-pocket costs, while a plan with a lower premium will entail more out-of-pocket spending and less predictability. Plans A, K, and L are some of the lowest coverage options and are likely to have the lowest premiums. These plans are best for those in good health. Plans like B and D fall somewhere in the middle.

If Select plans are offered in your area, they are another low-premium option. Make sure that you like the designated network of doctors and hospitals before you try a Select plan. Factors to consider include the local reputation of the facilities and how far you’ll need to drive to receive treatment. If you decide to try a Select plan, ask your agent about trial periods. In some circumstances, you may be able to return your Select policy and switch or return to a regular Medicare Supplement plan without penalty if you decide Select isn’t for you.

High Deductible plans are another way to save on premiums, though the deductibles can be thousands of dollars in some cases. Companies usually offer the High Deductible option on plan F, which will be phased out from insurance sales in 2020. High deductible and Select plans are not very common, so there may be only one company in your area that provides them.

3. Gather Price Data from Different Insurance Providers

It truly pays to compare brands since cost differences can be as high as $200 in some cases, even for the same policy in the same location. It’s a good idea to look at a minimum of three different companies before making a final decision. Many Insurance companies provide quotes online, but some do not. Keep in mind that most online quotes are informal and non-binding. When you apply for coverage you may find that your qualification for discounts differs from what you were quoted online. In case of confusion, it’s always best to pick up the phone.

As you compare the prices of different brands, keep the following tips in mind:

Compare the same plan or plans across companies
Plan A from one company cannot be accurately compared to Plan G from another company. Make sure you are always comparing exactly the same letters. Watch out for High Deductible, Select, and Innovative or “healthy living” versions of the letter plan, as these designations all change the value of the plan.

Enquire about Discounts
Most companies offer at least one discount, and some offer several. Some discounts are percentages of the premium, but others are a flat amount. With some as high as 12 percent off, discounts can make a huge difference in your long-term costs. It’s important to enquire if your discount will last for the life of the policy, as some do disappear over time.

Common discounts:

  • Gender: Women tend to receive a discount, though this practice may disappear as laws regarding gender and insurance change in some states. Right now, many companies charge women $10-$20 less on their premiums than they do a man, all other things being equal.
  • Habits: Those who have not used tobacco in the past year often qualify for a discount. Even if you used tobacco less than a year ago at the time you apply, you may later qualify for the discount after enough time has passed.
  • Household: Often you can receive this discount if you have lived with someone else over 65 for more than a year. Sometimes the terms are more strict, requiring that person to be a spouse or relative, or requiring them to also have a Medicare Supplement plan through the same company.
  • Multiline: Some companies that offer multiple kinds of insurance will give you a discount if you have more than one policy with the company.
  • Payment Method: Signing up to have your monthly premiums automatically withdrawn from your bank account every month can often get you a small, flat discount on your monthly premium. This kind of discount might total about $20 in a year. Some companies also give a discount to those who pay their premiums annually rather than monthly. We have seen savings as high as $50 a year for annual payment.
  • First Year Discount: Occasionally a company will offer a discount for new Medicare members. This may be called New Enrollment or New to Medicare discount. This discount disappears over time, often in one year. Consider if you can afford the undiscounted version of the plan later on, if applicable.

Understand the price structure
The federal government allows three different pricing structures that determine how prices increase over time. Some state governments further restrict companies by only allowing community-rated pricing, however. Below you will find an explanation of price structures.

Community-rated: Your premium is the same as the premium that everyone of the same location, gender, and health as you has. Cost is not influenced by your age in any way if you apply during open enrollment.
Issue-age-rated: Your premium price is based on the age you are when you apply for the policy. Applying as young as possible (usually 65) gives you an advantage. The price will not increase based on age later on.
Attained-age-rated: Your starting premium is based on the age you are when you apply, and it goes up every year based on your age. Ask an agent about the percentage increases you will experience in the next twenty or more years and consider if the policy will still be affordable for you in the future.

Regardless of the pricing structure, prices on any plan can increase based on inflation, within legal limits. You may find that only one price structure exists in your area. If you do happen to have the choice between two companies with different price structures, try to avoid attained-age-rated pricing. Community-rated policies typically prove the best deal in the long run, and issue-age-rated can be economical too, especially if you sign up as soon as possible.

4. Consider Customer Service and Perks

Since all companies must offer standardized plans, the actual medical coverage that you get should not differ at all when you compare the same plans at different companies. To set themselves apart, companies may offer you other perks or put extra focus on their customer service.

Perks

The kind of perks offered are as individual as the companies they come from, but common possibilities include:

  • 24-hour medical advice hotlines
  • Online health coaching
  • Free mobile apps for easy access to bill pay and benefit information
  • Discount programs for local fitness clubs

Service

Everyone has their own standard of customer service, but some factors to consider are:

  • The kind of experience you have when calling the company for information
  • The availability of a local agent you can call directly or meet face to face
  • The ease with which you can find useful resources on the company’s website
  • The convenience of the payment methods you can use for your premium
  • The availability of Medicare Part D or other forms of insurance that you’re interested in adding

5. Sign Up During Open Enrollment

To keep your insurance costs low, it’s crucial to sign up for a Medicare Supplement as soon as you become eligible for Medicare as a senior. The first six months that you are signed up for Medicare Part B, you are granted what’s called a “Medigap open enrollment period.” During this time, companies cannot refuse you service or charge you elevated rates due to your health. Medical underwriting is illegal during your open enrollment, and all pre-existing conditions must be covered without a waiting period.

If you miss your open enrollment period, the company will be able to use medical underwriting to determine your premium cost in most cases. This will likely lead to you paying significantly higher premiums than you otherwise would have, and these high premiums will last for the life of the policy.

Some states allow residents under the age of 65 to purchase a Medicare Supplement plan in certain circumstances. Your right to receive a policy without medical underwriting will depend on your state.

Understanding Nationwide Coverage

Image of Insurance Form and steftascope

Note: The chart below is a quick way to compare all nationwide standardized plans so you can find an option that best suits your needs. For more detailed descriptions of each plan, scroll past the chart. If you live in Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, the plans you choose will be specific to your state. If you live in one of these three states, scroll to your state’s section to find out more.

Medigap BenefitsABC*DF*GKLMN
Part A: Coinsurance & Hospital costs up to 365 days after Medicare benefit stopsYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Part B: Coinsurance and CopaymentYesYesYesYesYesYes50%75%YesYes**
First 3 Pints of Blood for TransfusionYesYesYesYesYesYes50%75%YesYes
Part A: Hospice Coinsurance or CopayYesYesYesYesYesYes50%75%YesYes
Skilled Nursing CoinsuranceNoNoYesYesYesYes50%75%YesYes
Part A: DeductibleNoYesYesYesYesYes50%75%50Yes
Part B: DeductibleNoNoYesNoYesNoNoNoNoNo
Part B: Excess ChargeNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoNoNo
Foreign TravelNoNo80%80%80%80%NoNo80%80%
Out of Pocket LimitN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A$5,560$2,780N/AN/A
*This plan is being phased out in 2020.
**Select $20 and $50 copays will still be charged to the patient

Nationwide Plans

Below you’ll find a quick guide to coverage. Start by reading the information on Plan A as it is the most basic plan, and most other plan descriptions are founded on an understanding of Plan A. It’s important to note that the amount of coverage does not necessarily increase in alphabetical order.

Plan A
Plan A is the most commonly available plan since the government requires all Medicare Supplement companies to offer Plan A. It typically has one of the lowest premiums of all plans offered by a company.

If you need to visit or stay in a hospital, your Plan A supplement will cover the coinsurance that Medicare requires of you, and it will also cover hospital costs up to one year after Medicare coverage runs out. This plan also covers Part B coinsurance, so the coinsurance associated with visiting a doctor’s office will not come out of your pocket. It additionally covers copays and coinsurance for hospice (under Part A). Finally, Plan A pays for up to three pints of blood transfusions that you may need.

Plan A does not cover deductibles for Part A or B, so you will need to pay those out of pocket. It also does not cover skilled nursing coinsurance, medical expenses incurred during foreign travel, or Part B excess charges. Excess charges occur when doctors are legally allowed to charge more for a service than the Medicare-approved amount.

Plan B
Plan B covers everything that Plan A does, and it also covers the deductible for Medicare Part A. Under Plan B you will still be responsible for the Part B deductible, skilled nursing coinsurance, foreign travel medical expenses, and Part B excess charges. Plan B is a somewhat rare plan, and only four out of the ten companies we reviewed carry it.

Plan C
Plan C covers everything that Plans A and B cover, plus quite a few other expenses. With Plan C, Part A and B deductibles are fully covered, so you will never need to worry about coming up with them out of pocket. You also won’t have to pay the coinsurance for any skilled nursing that you may receive under Part A.

Boasting 80 percent coverage for medical expenses incurred during foreign travel, Plan C suits seniors who enjoy international trips.

Plan C does not cover Part B excess charges.

Plan D
Plan D covers everything covered by plan A. It is nearly identical to C, except that it does not cover the Medicare Part B deductible. Since plans that cover the Part B deductible (Plans C and F) are being phased out of the Medicare Supplement system, Plan D provides an excellent alternative for those ineligible to enroll in plan C.

An overview of Plan D coverage:

  • Parts A & B coinsurance
  • First 3 pints of blood
  • Hospice coinsurance
  • Skilled nursing coinsurance
  • Part A Deductible
  • 80 percent foreign travel medical care

Plan D does not cover the Deductible for Part B, and it does not cover Part B excess charges.

Plan F
Plan F covers even more than Plan C.

Plan F Coverage:

  • Parts A & B coinsurance
  • First 3 pints of blood
  • Hospice coinsurance
  • Skilled nursing coinsurance
  • Part A Deductible
  • Part B Deductible
  • Part B Excess Charges
  • 80 percent foreign travel medical care

Plan F currently provides the highest level of coverage, but like plan C, it is being phased out in 2020.

Plan G
With Plans F and C disappearing soon, Plan G is being touted as a new favorite full coverage option. Premiums for G tend to be significantly lower than Plans F and C, but the coverage isn’t much different. Plan G differs from Plan F because it does not cover the Medicare Part B deductible.

After F is no longer sold, Plan G will be the only plan to cover Part B excess charges.

Plan G coverage at a glance:

  • Parts A & B coinsurance
  • First 3 pints of blood
  • Hospice coinsurance
  • Skilled nursing coinsurance
  • Part A Deductible
  • Part B Excess Charges
  • 80 percent foreign travel medical care

Plan K
Plan K tends to have very economical premiums, but it is a low coverage option. The only category that it fully covers is Part A Coinsurance & Hospital costs up to 365 days after Medicare benefit stops.

Plan K covers 50 percent of the following items:

  • Part B coinsurance and copayment
  • The first three pints of blood
  • Hospice coinsurance and copays
  • Skilled nursing coinsurance
  • The Part A deductible

Plan K comes with an out-of-pocket spending limit of $5,560. After you meet this limit for the year and after you have paid your Medicare Part B deductible in full, your Medicare Supplement Plan will pay 100 percent of covered expenses for the rest of the year. This out of pocket spending limit, while high, does provide assurance that your personal medical costs in a given year will not be excessive.

Plan L
Plan L has essentially the same structure as Plan K, but it covers more. For everything that Plan K covers 50 percent of, Plan L covers 75 percent. Plan L also has a much lower out-of-pocket limit of $2,780.

Like Plan K, Plan L fully covers Part A Coinsurance & Hospital costs up to 365 days after Medicare benefit stops.

Plan L covers 75 percent of the following items:

  • Part B coinsurance and copayment
  • The first three pints of blood
  • Hospice coinsurance and copays
  • Skilled nursing
  • The Part A deductible

Just like Plan K, Plan L does not cover the Part B deductible, Part B excess charges, or any foreign travel.

Plan M
Plan M can be considered a medium to high coverage plan. It offers full coverage for everything covered by Plan A, plus:

  • Full coverage for skilled nursing coinsurance
  • 50 percent coverage for the Part A deductible
  • 80 percent coverage of foreign travel medical expenses.

There is no out-of-pocket spending limit for this plan.

Plan N
Plan N boasts slightly different coverage from Plan M.

At a glance:

  • Nearly full coverage for everything covered by Plan A
  • Full coverage for skilled nursing coinsurance
  • Full coverage for the Part A deductible
  • 80 percent coverage for foreign travel
  • No out-of-pocket spending limit

The main difference between Plan M and Plan N is that in Plan N, the Part A deductible is covered in full rather than just 50 percent. Another small difference is that while Part B coinsurance is covered under Plan N, the patient may still be responsible for some $20 and $50 copays associated with Part B.

Coverage in Special States

The following three states have their own sets of standardized plans that differ from the national “Letter Plans”.

Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, just two plans are offered. Massachusetts has the Core Plan and the Supplement Plan 1. Both plans are built upon the concept of Basic Benefit.

Basic Benefits include:

  • Part A hospitalization coinsurance plus coverage for a year after Medicare benefits end
  • Part B coinsurance and copayments
  • The first three pints of blood each year
  • Part A hospice coinsurance

Core and Supplement Plan 1 Overview

 Core PlanSupplement Plan 1
Basic BenefitsYesYes
Skilled Nursing Facility CoinsuranceNoYes
Foreign TravelNoYes
Inpatient Mental Health Hospital StayNo120 days
State Mandated BenefitsYesYes

Core Plan

The core plan includes the Basic Benefits plus State-Mandated benefits. State Mandated benefits include a yearly Pap test and mammogram when applicable.

The core plan does not cover Part A or B deductibles, skilled nursing facility coinsurance, foreign travel emergency care, or inpatient mental health hospital care.

Supplement Plan 1

In addition to Basic Benefits and State Mandated Benefits, Supplement Plan 1 covers the Part A and B deductibles, Part A skilled nursing facility coinsurance, foreign travel emergencies, and 120 calendar days of inpatient days in a mental health hospital. While it’s difficult to generalize about plan costs, supplement Plan 1 premiums may often be as much as twice the price of the Core Plan.

Minnesota

Minnesota has a Basic Plan and an Extended Basic Plan. Both are available regardless of age and health problems when you enroll in Medicare Part B. Both plans include what is called Basic Benefits, but these differ from the Basic Benefits of other states.

Basic Benefits

In Minnesota, The term Basic Benefits refers to the coverage of:

  • Part A hospitalization coinsurance
  • Part B coinsurance
  • Hospice and respite care cost-sharing
  • The first three pints of blood
  • Home health services and supplies cost-sharing (for Parts A and B)
 Basic PlanExtended Basic
Basic BenefitsYesYes
Skilled Nursing Facility Coinsurance100 Days120 Days
Part A DeductibleNoYes
Part B DeductibleNoYes
Foreign Travel80% emergency
0% non-emergency
80% emergency
80% non-emergency
100% for either after you’ve spent $1,000 in a calendar year
Outpatient Mental Health Care50%50%
Physical Therapy20%20%
Medicare Covered Preventive CareYesYes
State Mandated BenefitsYesYes
Usual and Customary FeesNo80%
100% after you have spent more than $1,000 in a calendar year
Can Add RidersYesNo

The Basic Plan

The Basic Plan covers Basic Benefits plus the following:

  • 100 days of skilled nursing facility coinsurance
  • 80 percent of foreign emergency care
  • 50 percent of outpatient mental health care
  • 20 percent of physical therapy
  • Medicare-covered preventive care
  • State-mandated benefits such as diabetes care, cancer screenings, immunizations, and reconstructive surgeries

Minnesota residents may also choose to add riders to their Basic Plan at an additional cost. Riders allow for single-item customized coverage, and adding one or two riders you especially need can be more affordable than purchasing the Extended Basic Plan.

Available riders:

  • Non-medicare preventative care
  • Part A deductible
  • Part B deductible
  • Usual and Customary Fees

Those who want a high level of coverage can choose the Extended Basic Plan. In addition to the Basic Benefits, the plan includes even more coverage.

Extended Basic Plan

  • Basic Benefits
  • Part A and Part B deductible
  • 120 days of coverage for skilled nursing
  • 50 percent of outpatient mental health
  • 80 percent of usual and customary fees
  • 80 percent of foreign travel emergency
  • 20 percent of physical therapy
  • Non-emergency coverage while in a foreign country
  • Medicare-covered preventive care
  • State-mandated benefits

Wisconsin

Like Minnesota, Wisconsin Medicare Supplement coverage starts with a Basic Plan, but the coverage is different.

Basic Plan

  • Part A coinsurance
  • Part B coinsurance
  • The first 3 pints of blood each year
  • Hospice coinsurance or copayment (Part A)
  • Skilled nursing facility coinsurance (Part A)
  • 175 days of inpatient mental health coverage per lifetime, in addition to Medicare’s standard mental health benefit
  • 40 home health care visits in addition to those paid for by Medicare
  • State-mandated benefits

If the basic plan does not provide the coverage you’re seeking, you have a few other options. These extra coverage options have similarities to standardized national plans.

25 Percent and 50 Percent Cost Sharing Plans

While these plans go by different names than standardized plans sold throughout the nation, the 25 percent Plan is almost identical to standardized Plan L, and the 50 percent plan is similar to standardized Plan K. View our information on plans K and L, and speak with a Wisconsin insurance agent to fully understand any small differences in coverage.

High Deductible Options and Riders

Insurance providers in Wisconsin have the option to offer a high deductible version of the Basic Plan. The plan has a $2,000 deductible, and it typically features a lower premium cost than the Basic Plan. In addition to this low deductible option, companies can offer riders so that the customer can choose exactly which benefits they care most about adding to their coverage.

In Wisconsin, companies can offer the following riders if they choose to:

  • Part A deductible
  • 50 percent of the Part A deductible
  • Part B deductible
  • Part B excess charges
  • Additional home health care (365 visits including those paid by Medicare)
  • Foreign travel emergency
  • Part B copayment or coinsurance

The Cost of Medigap

Image of patient and specialist

Monthly Premiums Vary Greatly

The diversity of plans and companies in the insurance market makes generalizing about Medicare Supplement costs difficult. Premiums for low coverage plans sometimes sell for as low as $40, but in our research we have seen high coverage plans with premiums of $600. The latter high price, however, is extremely rare. We have found that the vast majority of monthly premiums fall in the $60-$200 range. Keep in mind that premiums increase over time based on inflation, and some plans’ pricing structures allow for additional increases based on age.

Factors That Influence Premiums

A number of factors influence your initial premium cost, including:

  • Local healthcare costs
  • The plan that you choose
  • Discounts offered by the company
  • The pricing structure allowed in your state
  • The company’s profit margin
  • Your gender, and sometimes your age and health
  • Open enrollment and guaranteed issue periods

For details on the above price influencers and how to find the lowest possible premiums, see our buyers guide.

Consider Your Premium in the Context of Other Medicare Costs

It’s wise to think about the cost of Medicare Supplement premiums in light of your other Medicare costs. These costs can be confusing for those new to the system. Including Medicare Supplements, most seniors pay between two to four Medicare-related premiums.

The majority of Original Medicare recipients get Part A at no personal cost, but if you paid into Medicare for fewer than 30 quarters you could pay Part A premiums of over $430. For Part B, you will probably pay $130 or more in the form of payments taken out of your Social Security checks. Part B costs are influenced by your income.

If you want an optional Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) plan, you’ll also need to find a plan from a private company and factor that premium into your budget. A Part D premium could be around $25, but income and a host of other factors will influence your actual cost.

Tips for Caregivers

If your parent or another senior that you care for is buying a Medigap policy, you can initiate conversations about the kind of company and policy that is the best fit for his or her lifestyle.

If your loved one wants to purchase a Select policy, you may want to have a discussion about whether or not the Select policy in your area is convenient and compatible with the transportation resources at their disposal. If your loved one is leaning toward a maximum coverage plan, you can talk about whether or not such a plan is necessary for their health and budget.

As you talk, you may want to also discuss how Medicare scams target seniors. As you talk and research you can familiarize yourself with the Medicare website’s list of illegal Medigap practices.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is open enrollment?

Everyone has a six month Medigap open enrollment period. This open enrollment period begins when you enroll in Medicare Part B (Part A enrollment is also required).

If you enroll during these six months, you will be charged the same price as a healthy person, even if you have pre-existing health problems.

If you try to enroll after your six-month open enrollment period ends, the insurance company has the right to refuse to cover you, to use medical underwriting to charge you a higher premium based on your health, or refuse to cover or impose a waiting period for coverage of pre-existing conditions.

Who has Guaranteed Issue?

In addition to the consumer protections provided by open enrollment, people in certain situations have guaranteed issue. Guaranteed Issue is the status of a person to whom an insurance company is required to offer a Medigap policy. Under Guaranteed Issue, the policy issued must cover pre-existing conditions without medical underwriting or a waiting period.

Those who qualify for guaranteed issue include:

  • Those losing a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan: if you’re losing a Medicare Advantage plan due to that plan leaving Medicare or discontinuing coverage in your location, you have Guaranteed Issue. This only applies if you switch to Original Medicare.
  • Your employer or union group health plan is ending: If your employer or union group health plan was designed to pay after Medicare pays, but it is ending, you have guaranteed issue.
  • You have Original Medicare and Medicare Select but are moving: You are allowed to keep your old Medicare Select policy even though you are moving, or you may elect to look for a policy from another company in your state. You have guaranteed issue if you elect to do the latter.
  • Your Medigap Insurance coverage ends through no fault of your own: This could happen if the company goes bankrupt.
  • You have to leave a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan because the company has misled you or broken rules: If your company misleads you or fails to meet federal and state standards of care, you may be able to switch companies with guaranteed issue rights.
  • You are in a trial period: In some circumstances, if you joined a Medicare Advantage or a Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) when you were first eligible for Medicare but you are unhappy with it within the first year of coverage, you may be able to switch to a Medigap policy. If you dropped a Medigap policy in favor of an Advantage Plan or a SELECT plan but you want to switch back to traditional Medigap within a year, you may also have guaranteed issue under a trial period.

For each of the above circumstances, a unique set of time requirements applies. In some cases, you’ll only be able to purchase a limited range of plans, but in other circumstances, all local plans will be available to you. To fully understand how long your guaranteed issue will last and what plans you can purchase, you can learn about your rights on the official Medicare website.

What if I have Medicare but I’m not a senior?

If you are younger than 65 but you have Medicare due to disability, insurance companies in about half of all states are required to offer you at least one Medicare supplement policy. However, those who have Medicare because they have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) are often not able to purchase a Medicare Supplement until they turn 65.

Rules can vary quite a bit from state to state. Companies may be able to use medical underwriting if you apply outside of your open enrollment period, so enrolling in a Medicare Supplement policy when you are not a senior may lead to higher premiums.

What does Medicare Supplement coverage exclude?

Medicare Supplement plans typically do not cover extended nursing home stays, private nurses, vision care, dental care, hearing aids, or prescription drugs. Some Medicare Supplement plans purchased before 2006 do include prescription drug coverage, but these plans are no longer sold. Many seniors purchase Medicare Part D in addition to their Medicare Supplement plan so that they will have prescription drug coverage.

Occasionally you will be able to find a Medicare Supplement plan that includes add-on coverage for vision or dental care. These plans might be called Healthy Living plans or Innovative plans. Plan names include the plan letter, so the name might be “Innovative F Medicare Supplement.”

Can I visit any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare?

For most Medicare Supplement plans, you can visit any doctor or hospital that accepts Original Medicare. Your Medicare Supplement coverage will kick in after Original Medicare has paid its portion of your care. You should not need referrals to see a doctor.

The only time your choice of Medicare-accepting doctors and hospitals is restricted is when you choose to purchase a Select Medicare Supplement plan. Select plans have lower premiums than their traditional counterparts, but they have a network of care determined by your insurance company, so the locations and doctors covered by the plan are limited except in some emergency situations.

Is Medigap the same as Medicare Supplement insurance?

Yes, Medigap and Medicare Supplement Insurance are exactly the same. Government websites tend to use the term Medigap and private companies more commonly use the term Medicare Supplement insurance.

How can I avoid Medicare scams?

Although searching online for Medicare Supplement will yield many results, not every search result can be trusted. Some of what you will see advertised may be scams, or may simply be a different form of insurance, such as hospital indemnity insurance. One of the safest ways to ensure that you are contacting a legitimate, licensed Medigap company is using the search tool provided on the official Medicare information website. All of the companies we have included in our guide were found using Medicare’s search tool. Medicare does not own, operate, or endorse these private companies, but it does recognize them as legitimate Medicare Supplement providers.

Keep in mind that Medicare products are not part of the state or federal healthcare marketplaces.

Under what circumstances can my policy be canceled?

If you neglect to pay your premiums on time, if you gave incorrect or misleading information on your initial application, or if your insurance company becomes bankrupt or insolvent, your coverage may legally be dropped. Your company may not drop your coverage for any other reason unless you purchased your policy prior to 1992.If you have a Medicare Supplement policy and you move to a new state, your policy will not be cancelled and you do not have to switch to a policy from the new state unless you want to. Most seniors base the decision of whether or not to switch on which state has a lower premium. You may run into unique challenges if you have a Select policy and you move out of its in-network area. Medicare’s website can help you understand your rights.