While overall enrollment in Medicare Supplement plans slipped slightly in 2021 after years of steady growth, the richer F, G, D and N plans remain the most popular among beneficiaries.
Medicare Supplement insurance plans (also called "Medigap" insurance) are private plans that helps fill "gaps" left in basic Medicare coverage. By itself, Original Medicare still leaves beneficiaries potentially exposed to thousands of dollars per year in deductibles, coinsurance, copays and other out-of-pocket costs.
Medigap helps protect Medicare enrollees against these costs.
Medigap vs. Medicare Advantage
While both Medigap and Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) are private plans designed to help seniors protect themselves against exposure to Medicare deductibles and copays, there are some important differences, including:
Medicare Advantage plans are managed care organizations that often rely on limited regional networks of care providers. Beneficiaries access care through these managed care companies.
With most Medicare Supplement plans, however, patients can go to any provider anywhere in the country that takes Medicare patients. Providers bill Medicare directly and the patient has little or no interaction with the insurer at all.
The most popular Medigap plans
Medicare beneficiaries can choose from 10 different Medicare Supplement plan options.
Medigap enrollees looking for broad, comprehensive coverage are flocking to Plan G. While overall Medigap enrollment was down slightly in 2021, Plan G enrollment soared by 22%, according to America's Health Insurance Plans. Plan G accounts for 54.9% of all Medicare Supplement enrollments.
Plan G covers all Medicare Part A and B deductibles, coinsurance and copays, except for the annual Part B deductible of $233. Some states also allow for a high-deductible plan G that features lower premiums.
Plan G has grown after Medicare Plan F, which is the most comprehensive of the Medigap plans, was discontinued for all new Medicare enrollees.
Anyone that was enrolled in a Plan F prior to Jan. 1, 2020 can stay in the plan, which provides complete coverage of all Medicare deductibles and copays, including excess charges and 80% of medical costs for those traveling abroad. The plan was closed to new enrollees on that date.
Another popular option is Plan D, which is very similar to Plan G. However, it does not cover excess costs under Part B.
Lower-premium Medigap options
In states that allow a high-deductible version of Plan G, those plans provide all the same coverage, subject to a $2,490 annual deductible.
Plan N provides the same coverage as Plan G above, except for an annual deductible of $2,340.
Plan N also potentially exposes enrollees to more copays:
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