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How to choose a Medigap supplemental policy

Published 9:24am Friday, April 5, 2013

Dear Savvy Senior,

I’ll be 65 in a few months – Medicare enrollment age – and am thinking about getting a Medicare supplemental policy to help cover things outside of Medicare. Can you give me some advice on choosing a plan?

~ Shopping Sam

Dear Sam,

If you’re planning to choose original Medicare for your health coverage, getting a supplemental policy too (also known as Medigap insurance) is a good idea if you can afford it, because it will help pay for things that aren’t covered by Medicare like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. Here are some tips and tools to help you choose an appropriate plan for you.

Medigap plans

Medigap policies, which are sold by private health insurers, come in 10 standardized benefit packages labeled as the letters A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M and N.

Plan F is the most popular, followed by plan C because they provide the most comprehensive coverage. Plans M and N, the two newest options, are cost sharing plans that have cheaper premiums, which make them appealing to healthier retirees who don’t use as much health care.

For more information on the different types of plans, call Medicare at 800-633-4227 and ask them to mail you a free copy of the “Choosing a Medigap Policy” guide (publication 02110), or see medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/02110.pdf.

How to choose

To choose a policy, consider your health status and family medical history. The differences among plans can be small and rather confusing so you’ll need to do some homework to pick a plan that works best for you.

To help you choose, use the Medigap online search tool at medicare.gov, and click on “Supplements & Other Insurance” at the top of the page, then on “How to Compare Medigap Policies.” This tool will breakdown what each plan covers along with premium cost ranges, and lists the companies that offer them in your area.

Since all Medigap policies with the same letter must cover the exact same benefits, you should shop for the cheapest policy.

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