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Is a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan Right for You?

Published January 21, 2022


When it’s time to enroll in Medicare, you will have several choices. Since Original Medicare covers only about 80% of your medical costs, you may want to consider buying a Medicare Supplement insurance or Medigap policy, which will cover most of the remaining 20% of services that Medicare approves. You can also choose a Part C or Medicare Advantage plan, which includes Parts A, B and usually D in one package which we describe here.

How to Determine If Medicare Supplement Is Right for You

How do you decide if a Medicare Supplement plan is right for you? If you do not choose a Supplement, you will need to be ready to pay for the 20% of costs Original Medicare does not cover. If you are not comfortable taking the risk of paying that extra 20%, you can purchase a Supplemental plan.

There Are 10 Medicare Supplement Plan Options

There are ten Medicare Supplemental plans (A-N) that are standardized in terms of the benefits they can offer, but they differ in what is covered in each of the plans and the costs for that coverage1. The more the plan covers, the more you will pay for the Supplement.

All plans cover your hospital coinsurance, but most plans do not cover Part B excess charges or the Part B deductible. You will pay a monthly premium for Supplemental coverage that ranges in terms of your gender, your age and whether or not you smoke.

Obviously, if you join when you are first eligible for Medicare, your premiums will be lower than if you wait to join until an older age. Once you are eligible for a Supplemental plan, however, that plan cannot raise your premiums on the basis of your health status.

Affordable Alternatives to Medigap

What if you cannot afford a Medicare Supplement? Since the premiums for these plans can vary tremendously, what do you do if you cannot afford the monthly premium? You may be eligible for Medicaid, which is assistance for people with low income. Check with your state Medicaid program about your eligibility.


The main advantage of a Medicare Supplement plan is the freedom it offers you to seek medical care from any provider who takes Medicare patients, no matter what the county or state. There are no referrals required and no preauthorization for treatments. A Supplemental plan may be best for you if you can afford the monthly premium and you want to be able to go to any medical provider.

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