The 6 Best Medicare Supplement Plans in 2021
- Which Medicare Supplement Insurance plan is best in 2021? Depending on what type of health care costs you expect this year and the types of monthly costs you want to pay, this guide can help you decide on the type Medigap plan that’s right for you.
With 10 standardized types of Medicare Supplement Insurance plans available in most states, it’s common for shoppers to wonder which one is best.
The trouble is, everyone has their own interpretation of what constitutes the “best” plan. Is it the benefits? Cost? Something else?
We’ve compiled a list of the best Medicare Supplement Insurance plans according to various criteria to help consumers like you navigate your way through the landscape.
It’s important to remember that Medicare Supplement Insurance (also called Medigap) is standardized by the federal government, meaning the coverage is consistent within each plan no matter where or by whom it is sold. In other words, Medigap Plan B sold by Company 1 in New York offers the same benefits as Medigap Plan B sold by Company 2 in California.
The chart below shows the 10 different Medicare Supplement Insurance plans available in most states (Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin standardize their plans differently) and the combination of benefits offered by each.
|Medicare Supplement Benefits||A||B||C1||D||F1||G||K||L||M||N|
|Part A coinsurance and hospital costs||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Part B coinsurance or copayment||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||50%||75%||✓||✓|
|First 3 pints of blood||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||50%||75%||✓||✓|
|Part A hospice care co-insurance or co-payment||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||50%||75%||✓||✓|
|Co-insurance for skilled nursing facility||✓||✓||✓||✓||50%||75%||✓||✓|
|Medicare Part A deductible||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||50%||75%||50%||✓|
|Medicare Part B deductible||✓||✓|
|Medicare Part B excess charges||✓||✓|
|Foreign travel emergency||80%||80%||80%||80%||80%||80%|
|1. Plans C and F are not available to new beneficiaries who became eligible for Medicare on or after January 1, 2020.
2. Plans F and G also offer a high deductible plan which has an annual deductible of $2,370 in 2021. Once the annual deductible is met, the plan pays 100% of covered services for the rest of the year. The high deductible Plan F is not available to new beneficiaries who became eligible for Medicare on or after January 1, 2020.
3. Plan K has an out-of-pocket yearly limit of $6,220 in 2021. Plan L has an out-of-pocket yearly limit of $3,110 in 2021.
4. Plan N pays 100% of the Part B coinsurance, except for a copayment of up to $20 for some office visits and up to $50 for emergency room visits that don’t result in an inpatient admission.
View an image version of this table.
Best Medicare Supplement Plan for Coverage
As you can see by the chart above, there is one Medicare Supplement plan that stands above the rest when it comes to the benefits offered.
Plan F is the only Medigap plan to offer coverage in each of the nine benefit areas offered by this type of insurance. Members of Plan F enjoy little to no out-of-pocket expenses because their Medigap plan picks up nearly all health care costs not paid for by Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B). More than half of all Medigap beneficiaries are enrolled in Plan F.
However, Plan F does come with one downside. Federal legislation has made Plan F off-limits to anyone who first became eligible for Medicare on or after January 1, 2020. Only those who became eligible for Medicare before that date may enroll in Plan F. Because of that rule, we can expect to see Plan F enrollment decrease every year until it eventually no longer exists.
Medigap Plan C is the only other type of Medigap plan that is subject to the same enrollment rule as Plan F. If you were eligible for Medicare before 2020, you may still be able to enroll in Plan F or Plan C if either plan is available where you live.
Best Medicare Supplement Plan for New Enrollees
Because of the enrollment rules tied to Plan F, new enrollees are barred from enrolling in that popular plan. So what’s the best Medigap plan for someone who became eligible for Medicare after Jan. 1, 2020?
Plan G offers all of the same benefits as Plan F except that it doesn’t pay for the Medicare Part B deductible. The Part B deductible is $203 per year in 2021, so it’s a relatively small cost requirement when compared to some other types of Medicare out-of-pocket copays and deductibles. And the monthly premiums for Plan G are typically lower than those of Plan F, which can more or less cancel out the Part B deductible cost.
Plan D is another candidate for the best Medigap plan for new enrollees. Plan D offers the same coverage as Plan G with the exception of Medicare Part B excess charges. However, excess charges can usually be avoided simply by making sure to only visit health care providers who accept Medicare assignment.
Best Medicare Supplement Plan for Basic Benefits
Some beneficiaries just want a basic Medigap plan with no thrills. Medigap Plan B checks that box, with coverage for three types of out-of-pocket Medicare costs that Medicare beneficiaries may be more likely to face that can add up quickly:
- Medicare Part A deductible
- Medicare Part A coinsurance
- Medicare Part B coinsurance
Having those three areas covered means you will likely avoid some of the biggest potential Medicare charges you could face. This can help many beneficiaries enjoy some peace of mind with a simple plan that has everything they need and nothing they don’t.
Best Medicare Supplement Plan for Cost
Cost is always important when shopping for health insurance, and some consumers will even place it as their top priority.
High-deductible Plan G and high-deductible Plan F are typically the two lowest-cost Medigap plans available. Each of these plans requires beneficiaries to meet an annual deductible before the Medigap plan coverage kicks in. In 2021, the deductible for high-deductible Plan F and high-deductible Plan G is $2,370.
This means that in exchange for a much lower monthly premium, you agree to pay up to $2,370 in 2021 for your covered services before your Medigap plan will cover most the rest of your out-of-pocket Medicare costs for the rest of the year.
Either of these plans can be a good fit for a beneficiary who doesn’t expect to use many medical services during the year and who wants to save money each month on their Medigap premiums.
Plan N is also a good plan to consider if you want a plan with lower monthly premiums. Plan N pays for most out-of-pocket Medicare costs, including 100% of your Medicare Part B coinsurance costs. The main exception is that you pay a copay of up to $20 for some of your doctor’s office visits and a copay of up to $50 if you visit the emergency room but aren’t admitted to the hospital for inpatient care.
These low – but predictable – copays allow insurance companies to typically offer Plan N at a lower monthly rate than some other Medigap plans.
Best Medicare Supplement Plan for Travelers
One of the health care costs that can be covered by some Medicare Supplement Insurance plans is foreign travel emergency care, or emergency care received outside of the U.S. or U.S. territories.
There are 6 Medigap plans that will pay for 80% of your foreign travel emergency care costs. Two of those plans are Plan M and Plan N, which provide coverage of foreign emergency care while typically offering lower monthly premiums than the other types of Medigap plans that also offer this coverage.
Plus, these plans also offer coverage for Medicare Part B excess charges, which allows members to see a greater variety of health care providers within the U.S. and U.S. territories.
Best Medicare Supplement Plan for Budgeters
Surprise or unexpected medical bills can ruin anyone’s budget. But Medigap Plan K and Plan L have annual out-of-pocket limits built into them to give beneficiaries an extra layer of protection.
For 2021, Plan L’s out-of-pocket spending limit is $3,110, and Plan K’s limit is $6,220. Once a plan member spends that amount on covered care, the plan then pays for 100% of all covered services and items for the remainder of the year.
Original Medicare does not include an out-of-pocket limit, which leaves beneficiaries exposed to potentially high medical bills for more serious injuries or illnesses.
How to Choose a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan
Everyone has different health care needs and spending concerns, so deciding on the best Medicare Supplement Insurance plan for you requires assessing your own personal situation.
It can be helpful to make note of which type of care you spend the most money on to determine where your biggest savings opportunity might lie. Some questions to ask of yourself include:
- Do you travel frequently within or outside the U.S.?
- Were you eligible for Medicare before January 1, 2020 (even if you were not yet enrolled)?
- Do you have a monthly budget in mind?
- How often do you see a doctor?
Not every plan is available in every location, so the best plan for you is really the best available plan for you.
Working with a licensed insurance agent can be a good way to determine the best Medigap plan for your needs.