What’s the Best Medigap Plan?

The 10 Medigap plans offer different levels of benefits that pay for expenses not covered by original Medicare.

Prescription pad that says Medigap and alphabet puzzle pieces representing the Medigap policies.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Each year, seniors have important decisions to make regarding their Medicare coverage. Medicare open enrollment runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. Keep in mind, though, that this period is almost over. Enrollment will close on Thursday Dec. 7.

Why you need Medigap 

Original Medicare provides a number of great benefits to enrollees, but this coverage does have some gaps. For instance, Part B will cover only 80% of your medical expenses, after you hit the deductible, with no out-of-pocket maximum. That means you could be on the hook for a significant bill if you become gravely ill. Part A will only pay for the first 60 days you spend in the hospital, again after a deductible is met, before you must start paying co-insurance.

Because of this, many beneficiaries choose to enroll in either a Medicare Advantage plan or a supplemental policy to help cover those costs. (For more on Medicare Advantage, see Is a Medicare Advantage Plan Right for You?)

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What is Medigap insurance?

If you decide to go with a Medicare supplement policy (or more commonly called Medigap), you then must select which plan you want. Medigap plans are administered by private insurance companies. These plans come in 10 letter designations (A through D; F; G; and K through N). All plans with the same letter have the same coverage, but prices can vary based on the insurance company.

The 10 different types of Medigap insurance

Which plan is right for you depends on your personal preferences and how much medical care you expect to need that year. The plans offer a range of benefits with some covering many of your Medicare costs while others require more cost sharing.

Plan F has been the most popular because of its generous benefits. It covers the Medicare Part A hospital deductible and co-payments, the Part B deductible, and some emergency care outside the U.S.

Plan C covers many of the same benefits as Plan F, except it won’t pay for the Part B excess charge. This happens when a provider charges Medicare more than the amount approved by the program. The beneficiary is then responsible for that excess amount.

However, Plans C and F are no longer available to those who became eligible for Medicare after Jan. 1, 2020. Medigap plans are no longer allowed to cover Part B deductibles. Since both of these plans paid for that, insurance companies can no longer offer them to new beneficiaries. Those already enrolled in those plans can keep that insurance. However, premiums are likely to rise as these plans can no longer accept new enrollees.

If you were considering Plan F, then take a look at Plan G. It provides the same coverage as Plan F except for the Part B deductible.

If you don’t anticipate having many doctors’ visits, consider Plan N, which usually has lower premiums in return for some cost sharing.

Help choosing the right Medigap plan 

Medicare provides a chart that outlines what each Medigap plan covers here. Medicare also provides a tool that allows you to compare different Medigap plans available in your area. Enter your zip code, age, gender and whether you smoke, and Medicare will provide a price range for each available plan and a list of insurers who offer the coverage.

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Senior Retirement Editor, Kiplinger.com

Jackie Stewart is the senior retirement editor for Kiplinger.com and the senior editor for Kiplinger's Retirement Report.