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What Do Medicare Supplements Cover?

what do medicare plans cover

Navigating the complex world of Medicare can be daunting, especially when considering supplement insurance. This article provides an essential guide to understanding Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans. It’s designed to help those eligible for Medicare make informed decisions about supplement insurance, explaining how these plans work, the types of plans available, and the costs involved. Whether you’re enrolling in Medicare for the first time or considering a Medigap plan, this article is a valuable resource for understanding your options.


  1. What is Medicare Supplement Insurance?
  2. How Do Medigap Plans Work with Original Medicare?
  3. Who is Eligible for Medicare Supplement Insurance?
  4. Understanding the Different Types of Medicare Supplement Plans
  5. The Costs Involved with Medicare Supplement Insurance
  6. How Do Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans Work?
  7. When and How to Enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan
  8. Comparing Medicare Supplement Plans: What to Look For
  9. Medicare Supplement vs. Medicare Advantage: What’s the Difference?
  10. Frequently Asked Questions About Medicare Supplement Insurance

What is Medicare Supplement Insurance?

Medicare Supplement Insurance, also known as Medigap, is a type of insurance policy offered by private insurance companies. It helps cover some of the healthcare costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Understanding the role of Medigap is crucial for anyone enrolled in Medicare, as it can significantly reduce out-of-pocket expenses.

How Do Medigap Plans Work with Original Medicare?

Medigap plans are designed to work alongside Original Medicare (Parts A and B). They do not replace Original Medicare but supplement it by covering costs not paid by Medicare. For instance, if you have both Original Medicare and a Medigap policy, Medicare will first pay its share of the Medicare-approved amount for covered healthcare costs, and then your Medigap policy pays its share.

Who is Eligible for Medicare Supplement Insurance?

Eligibility for Medicare Supplement insurance requires enrollment in both Medicare Part A and Part B. Generally, you’re eligible for Medicare if you’re 65 or older, though some younger people with disabilities may also qualify. Understanding eligibility is key to planning your healthcare coverage in retirement.

Understanding the Different Types of Medicare Supplement Plans

There are several types of Medicare Supplement plans available, each identified by a letter (e.g., Plan A, Plan B, Plan N). Each plan offers a different level of coverage and works differently. It’s important to understand the specific benefits each plan offers to choose the one that best meets your needs.

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The Costs Involved with Medicare Supplement Insurance

The costs of Medicare Supplement Insurance plans vary. Factors affecting the cost include the type of plan, the insurance company, your location, and sometimes your age and health status. Understanding these costs is crucial for budgeting for healthcare expenses in retirement.

How Do Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans Work?

Medicare Supplement Insurance plans help cover costs not covered by Original Medicare, like Part B coinsurance or copayments. Each type of Medigap policy offers different benefits, with some providing more comprehensive coverage than others. It’s important to understand how these plans work to make an informed decision.

When and How to Enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan

The best time to buy a Medicare Supplement policy is during your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. This period begins on the first day of the month in which you’re both 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B. Enrolling during this period usually provides more choices and better pricing.

Comparing Medicare Supplement Plans: What to Look For

When comparing Medigap plans, consider factors like the type of coverage you need, the premiums, out-of-pocket costs, and the plan’s ratings. Different insurance companies may offer the same plan at different prices, so it’s important to shop around.

Medicare Supplement vs. Medicare Advantage: What's the Difference?

Medicare Supplement Insurance is different from Medicare Advantage Plans. While Medigap supplements Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans are an alternative way to get Medicare benefits, often including additional coverage like prescription drugs, vision, or dental.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can switch Medigap plans at any time. However, outside your initial enrollment period, you may be subject to medical underwriting, and insurers can charge you more or deny coverage based on your health status. It’s important to compare plans and consider any changes in your health or finances before switching.

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Medigap policies are standardized and valid in any state, but the cost may vary based on your new location. You should inform your insurance company about the move to ensure your policy remains valid and to understand if any changes in premiums or coverage apply.

No, Medigap plans sold after January 1, 2006, do not include prescription drug coverage. You need to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) for drug coverage. This is separate from your Medigap policy.

To find the best Medigap plan, assess your health needs and budget. Compare the benefits of different plans and check the premiums charged by various insurance companies. You can use resources like the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) or consult with a licensed insurance agent for guidance.

No, Medigap plans only supplement Original Medicare’s coverage and do not extend to services that Medicare does not cover, such as routine vision or dental care. You’ll need separate insurance or pay out-of-pocket for these services.

No, enrolling in a Medigap plan is not mandatory. It’s an optional addition to Original Medicare coverage. However, enrolling during your open enrollment period is advisable if you want a Medigap plan, as you won’t face medical underwriting or coverage denial based on health conditions.


In conclusion, understanding Medicare Supplement Insurance, or Medigap, is essential for anyone navigating the complexities of healthcare coverage in their senior years. This article aimed to demystify the various aspects of Medigap, from its basic definition, eligibility criteria, and different plan types, to the costs involved and how these plans work in tandem with Original Medicare.

By comparing Medigap to Medicare Advantage and addressing common FAQs, we hope to have provided clarity and guidance for those making critical decisions about their healthcare coverage.

Remember, the choice of whether to enroll in a Medigap plan depends on your individual healthcare needs and financial situation. With the insights and information provided here, you are better equipped to make an informed decision that ensures comprehensive coverage and peace of mind during your retirement years.

As healthcare needs and policies evolve, staying informed and consulting with healthcare professionals or insurance advisors will continue to be crucial. Your health is your most valuable asset; investing time in understanding how to best protect it is a wise and necessary step.

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