A lot of insurance companies currently sell MedSup plans to Americans. Here are 10 you should consider while shopping for one. (Bonus: you’ll learn about the basics of these policies, too.)
You’re looking for the best Medicare Supplement companies around, right?
Or to put it another way, you’re looking for the best insurance companies that sell these supplementary policies to Americans?
That’s what we’re going to help you with here.
Specifically, in this article, you’ll find information on 10 different insurance companies that currently offer Medicare Supplement, also called MedSup or Medigap, plans.
That’s not all you’ll find in this article, though. You’ll also learn about the 10 different MedSup plans the insurers discussed here may or may not sell to you. And you’ll learn when you can--as well as when you should--buy this supplemental coverage. You’ll learn how you can save money on it, too.
Before we get to all of that, though, a number of things need to be addressed:
If any of the terms used so far throw you for a loop, don’t worry. For a general overview of this topic, check out our “Guide to Medicare.” To learn more about what’s often called Medicare Part C, see our “Guide to Medicare Advantage Plans.” And then there’s our “Medicare Supplement Insurance Policy FAQ”--read it to quickly get up to speed on Medigap or MedSup policies.
With that out of the way, here are 10 private insurers you should consider while shopping for a Medicare Supplement plan.
The first group of five are larger companies with household names. The second group of five are smaller, less-renowned companies.
Don’t ignore the smaller companies just because you’ve never heard of them, by the way. It’s likely some of them will offer you a better price than a larger insurer for the same MedSup plan. (And don’t forget: all MedSup plans of the same letter have to provide the same benefits. So all Plan A coverage must be the same no matter where you buy it, all Plan F coverage must be the same from company to company, etc.)
As for how we settled on the 10 Medicare Supplement insurance providers named below: basically, we considered a variety of factors. One was company size. Another was how long it’s been around--or how long it’s sold MedSup plans. A few others: its financial strength, the number of plans it offers, and where it sells them (in which states).
It’s likely a lot of Americans buy these MedSup plans because of their connection to AARP. Others probably have heard of UnitedHealthcare and find that attractive.
And, really, who can blame them? Both are perfectly good reasons to choose this MedSup option over all of the others available today.
That’s not to suggest they’re the only reasons someone might decide to buy an AARP Medicare Supplement insurance plan. A couple of others:
Two things to keep in mind while you decide whether or not to buy one of these policies:
As you probably can imagine, there are a lot of reasons you might want to go with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, too, when it comes to Medicare Supplement coverage. Among them:
As for which MedSup plans Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield sells at the moment: how does A, F, G, and N sound?
Cigna is another well-known insurance company you should check out while shopping for a MedSup or Medigap policy. Why? Consider the following:
If that’s not enough for you, maybe this will do the trick: Cigna has an A rating with A.M. Best.
The main reason you should contact Humana if you’re ever in the market for Medicare Supplement insurance: the company’s headquarters is in Louisville, Kentucky.
Seriously, though, there are plenty of reasons to include Humana’s MedSup offerings when you go to compare these plans. We’ll warn you now, though: most of them will sound familiar.
You may have heard that USAA often offers the best insurance--of any kind--around.
Well, it’s true. Don’t take our word for it; see for yourself by reading some of what pops up after you do a Google search for the organization. (On a related note: USAA is short for United Services Automobile Association. Despite that, it sells homeowners, renters, life, and Medicare Supplement insurance along with auto insurance these days.)
Also, it has the highest rating possible with A.M. Best--A++, or “superior.”
That pair of kudos alone likely is enough to interest a lot of Americans in its MedSup offerings. Unfortunately, most can’t take advantage of it. This is because you have to be active military, former military, or an eligible family member to join USAA or enroll in its insurance products.
If you qualify, though, USAA’s MedSup plans are sure to be your best option--both for the reasons stated earlier and for these:
This may be the first you’re hearing of Bankers Fidelity Life, but don’t take that to mean it’s the insurance company equivalent of a “spring chicken.”
In fact, this Atlanta-based insurer has been around since 1955. And in the years since it’s developed quite the catalog of insurance offerings. Besides MedSup plans, it also sells “final expense” coverage, cancer insurance, and various life products.
You’re here to find out about MedSup providers, though, so let’s talk about that aspect of the Bankers Fidelity portfolio.
The key bullet point in that regard: Bankers Fidelity sells A, B, F, G, K, L, M, and N MedSup plans.
Plan availability varies by state, though, so don’t assume you’ll be able to buy all of the plans mentioned above just because Bankers Fidelity Life serves your ZIP code.
This “small” insurer’s even more intriguing than Bankers Fidelity Life in many ways. How so? For starters, its parent company Central States Health & Life Co. of Omaha, was founded all the way back in 1932. (It established Central States Indemnity in 1977.)
Beyond that, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. acquired it in 1992. That may explain its A+ rating with A.M. Best.
So why else should you add Central States Indemnity to your “shopping list” when you start looking for Medicare Supplement coverage? Consider the following:
Now this is a company you’ve probably heard of before now--even if it wasn’t in regard to insurance. (Medicare Supplement insurance, especially.)
That awareness may be enough for you to give Gerber a try when it comes time to buy a MedSup policy. If you need a bit more information before you can comfortably ask the company about its products and prices, though, this might help:
Here’s another MedSup provider that’s probably slipped under the radar for a lot of people.
That’s kind of amazing when you realize ManhattanLife has been around, in some form or other, since 1850.
If that’s not impressive enough, the Houston-based insurer sells a good variety of Medicare Supplement plans--A, C, F, G, and N--and it sells them pretty much from coast to coast. (You’ll have to get a quote to see if it serves your neck of the woods.)
This insurer, headquartered in Salt Lake City, isn’t as impressive on paper as some of the other companies highlighted here, but there are still plenty of reasons to recommend it. A few examples:
Don’t be overwhelmed by the fact that insurance companies can offer as many as 10 different Medicare Supplement plans. Although they’re all different from each other in various ways, the differences tend to be subtle.
For example, MedSup Plan A fully pays the following healthcare costs for you:
MedSup Plan B covers those same costs as well as your Medicare Part A deductible.
Plan C pays all of the costs listed above plus your Medicare Part B deductible, skilled nursing facility care coinsurance, and 80 percent of medical care you receive while traveling outside the U.S. (Want to know more about this particular type of coverage? See our article, “Do Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or Medigap Plans Pay for Medical Treatments in Foreign Countries?”)
Plan F pays all of those same costs plus your Medicare Part B “excess charge.”
Plan G basically offers the same coverage as F, but gets rid of the Part B deductible. Plans D and N, on the other hand, don’t cover the Part B deductible or excess charges.
The other available MedSup plans--K, L, and M--pay just a portion or percentage of various costs, like your Part A deductible or your Part B copay or coinsurance fees. Some come with yearly out-of-pocket limits, too.
For more information, visit medicare.gov.
First, let’s tackle the question: when can you buy a Medicare Supplement plan?
Technically, you can buy one whenever you want--as long as you’re over the age of 65 and you’re enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. Or at least you’re allowed to buy one anytime after both of those things happen.
As you’ll learn in a second, though, just because you’re allowed to buy a MedSup policy whenever you want, that doesn’t mean doing so is in your best interests.
So when should you buy a MedSup plan? Most experts will tell you to buy one when you’re first eligible. That means during your six-month Medicare Supplement insurance open enrollment period. If you don’t know when this is, it begins on the first day of the month you’re both covered by Medicare Part B and you’re 65 or older.
During this period, you can buy any MedSup or Medigap plan sold in your state, even if you have health problems. And not only that, but you can buy a plan for the same price as someone who is in perfect health.
Wait until after this window closes, and you may have to pay a lot more for that same policy. You might even have a hard time buying one of these policies, period. Why? Because outside of open enrollment, insurance companies can refuse to cover people based on their health or medical histories.
Before we get to how you can save money on Medicare Supplement insurance, you should know how companies price these plans in the first place.
What you pay for MedSup coverage is based on a number of factors, including:
Insurance companies also price or “rate” these plans in three distinct ways. One way bases your monthly premium on your age when you buy the plan. Another bases your premium on your current age--which means it will increase as you get older. And a third ignores your age and charges everyone who enrolls the same monthly premium.
With all of the above in mind, here are a few things you can do to try to lower your MedSup costs:
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