How do I pay for my Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan?
Last Updated : 12/12/20196 min read
Medicare Supplement (also referred to as Medigap) insurance may be an option for you if you’re enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. Read on to learn about how to pay for a Medicare Supplement plan and about the possible costs.
Medicare Supplement plans pay many of the copayments and deductibles that you’d have to pay out of your own pocket if your only coverage were Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). Private insurance companies offer Medicare Supplements plans. If you sign up for one of these plans, you will pay a premium to the insurance company in addition to the premium you pay for Medicare.
How much will it cost me to purchase a Medicare Supplement plan?
The premium you’ll pay for Medicare Supplement plan coverage will vary among plans and insurance companies. Listed below are some actors that may influence how much you may have to pay for a Medicare Supplement plan.
- How much coverage you receive from your Medicare Supplement plan
In 47 states 10 standardized Medicare Supplement benefit plan designs are available to eligible Medicare beneficiaries. These Medicare Supplement plans are identified by letters. Standardized benefits mean that if you purchase Medicare Supplement Plan B (which is not the same as Medicare Part B), you get the same benefit wherever you live and from any insurance company licensed to sell you the Medicare Supplement plan. Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are the states that standardize benefits differently.
Each Medicare Supplement plan type (letter) offers standardized benefit coverage that is different from the other plan types (letters). In general, the more coverage the Medicare Supplement plan provides, the higher the monthly premium.
- What the insurance company charges for coverage (premium)
While insurance companies licensed to sell Medicare Supplement plans must offer certain standardized benefits, they are not required to sell all plan types or to adopt a uniform premium for each Medicare Supplement plan. What you’ll pay for coverage can vary significantly between insurance companies offering the same Medicare Supplement plan.
Compare insurance companies’ premiums for the Medicare Supplement plan you want. You can compare Medicare Supplement plans where you live and the current premiums they charge to new members by clicking on the Compare Plans button located on this page.
The insurance company that sells you your Medicare Supplement plan will tell you the different ways you can pay your premium. Some insurance companies might offer discounts for special circumstances, such as
- Married people who buy two policies (your Medicare Supplement policy won’t cover your spouse)
- People who pay their premiums using electronic funds transfer
- People who pay their premiums yearly rather than monthly
- When you purchase your Medicare Supplement plan.
Generally, the best time to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan is during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, which starts the month you’re enrolled in Medicare Part B and are at least age 65. The Open Enrollment Period lasts 6 months. During this period of time, you have guaranteed-issue rights, which means that you cannot be turned down by an insurance company offering a Medicare Supplement plan and you cannot be charged a higher premium because of a pre-existing health condition or disability. In some cases, you may face a waiting period for coverage of a pre-existing health condition. After the Medigap Open Enrollment period, it may be difficult to buy or change Medicare Supplement plans. Insurance companies may require medical underwriting, charge a higher premium, or deny coverage if you have health problems.
Will my Medicare Supplement premium increase over time?
Your Medicare Supplement premium might increase over time. To get a clearer understanding of the potential increases in your premium it may be a good idea to ask an insurance company how it prices its plans. The pricing methodology may affect how your premium increases over time.
There are three different ways that insurance companies price their Medicare Supplement plans, including:
- Community Rated – The cost of the plan is based upon the community in which you live. Your premium is set according to how much it costs the insurance company to provide Medicare Supplement coverage in your area. Everyone in the community who is enrolled in the plan pays the same premium regardless of age, health, or length of time in the plan.
- Issue Age – The cost of the plan is based upon how old you are when you purchase the policy. Your premium will not increase just because you celebrate another birthday.
- Attained Age – The cost of the plan is always based upon your current age. This means that your premium will increase as you grow older. Some companies may increase your premium annually, while others may use “age bands”. This means that your premium increases based upon an age category or group (e.g. every five years). Attained age policies generally start out less expensive than issue age policies and grow more expensive as you get older.
Keep in mind that insurance plans may be affected by inflation and rising health costs. Therefore, the price of your Medicare Supplement premium could go up each year, regardless of the type of pricing method used by the insurance company; however, knowing the pricing methodology the insurance company uses can give you a general idea of whether you can expect your premium to increase as you age.
If I pay a premium for my Medicare Supplement, do I have to pay other Medicare premiums also?
If you sign up for a Medicare Supplement plan, you must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium. (Some people also pay a Medicare Part A premium.) If you decide to enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan, you will typically also pay a separate premium to that plan for prescription drug coverage.
To learn more about Medicare and your Medicare coverage options, just click on the “Compare Plans” button on this page.
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