The Best Medicare Supplement Companies

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.)

two seniors looking at computer screen

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:

  • Medicare Supplement insurance helps you pay some of the healthcare costs Medicare Part A and Part B don’t cover. (Examples: Part A and Part B coinsurance, Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment, skilled nursing facility care coinsurance, and blood for medical procedures.)
  • Private companies, rather than the federal government, sell you these policies. That said, they have to follow federal and state laws designed to protect consumers while doing so. And the MedSup policies they sell must be "standardized." (This means that all “Plan A” coverage has to provide the same benefits, no matter where you buy it. The price can differ from company to company, but not the benefits.)
  • Companies can sell up to 10 MedSup or Medigap plans at the moment. They’re identified by letter: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N.
  • Don’t look for any of those letters if you live in Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin. The plans sold in those states are standardized in a different way.
  • The companies that sell MedSup plans don’t have to sell all 10 of them. If they offer any, though, one of them must be Plan A. And if they offer any others (besides Plan A), Plan C or F have to be among them.
  • Finally, you need to be enrolled in Original Medicare, or Medicare Parts A and B, before you can buy any MedSup policy. You can’t be enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, however. It’s actually illegal for a company to sell you Medicare Supplement coverage if you have a Medicare Advantage plan. (That is, unless you're in the middle of switching from Medicare Advantage back to Original Medicare.)

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.

10 MedSup Companies Worth Your Consideration

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).

Larger Medicare Supplement companies:

AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans from UnitedHealthcare

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:

  • UnitedHealthcare’s M. Best (financial strength) rating is an A, or “excellent.”
  • These are the only MedSup plans that carry AARP’s name and support.
  • AARP and UnitedHealthcare offer seven of the 10 different MedSup plans: A, B, C, F, K, L, and N.

Two things to keep in mind while you decide whether or not to buy one of these policies:

  • Not all of the plans listed above are available in all states. (Although this is true of pretty much every insurance company included in this article.)
  • You have to be an AARP member to enroll in an AARP Medicare Supplement plan.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield

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:

  • The company has been around for a long time. It’s hard to say just how long given the convoluted history of the insurers that created it (Anthem as well as--you guessed it--Blue Cross and Blue Shield.) Still, the entities that combined forces to become Blue Cross and Blue Shield emerged in the late 1920s and late 1930s, respectively, while Anthem’s parent companies were formed in the 1940s.
  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield also has an A rating with A.M. Best.
  • It’s licensed to sell these plans in 13 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

As for which MedSup plans Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield sells at the moment: how does A, F, G, and N sound?

Cigna

Cigna is another well-known insurance company you should check out while shopping for a MedSup or Medigap policy. Why? Consider the following:

  • Like Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Cigna has been around for a good, long while. In Cigna’s case, though, it’s easier to pinpoint exactly when it first opened its doors. (That would be 1982.)
  • Another feather in Cigna’s cap as far as Medicare Supplement plans are concerned: it currently serves 37 states as well as Washington, D.C.
  • Also, it offers Americans a wide range of MedSup policies. Specifically, it sells A, B, C, D, F, G, and N plans. And it sells high-deductible F plans, too. (Don’t have a clue as to what a high-deductible Plan F is or why you might want to buy it? Read our “Medicare Part F Frequently Asked Questions” article.)

If that’s not enough for you, maybe this will do the trick: Cigna has an A rating with A.M. Best.

Humana

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.

  • First, the company was founded in 1961. (In other words, it has a ton of experience in the insurance space.)
  • Second, Humana is licensed to sell MedSup policies in a whopping 45 states, plus Washington, D.C.
  • Third, it offers eight different plans to people looking for Medicare Supplement coverage: A, B, C, F, G, K, L, and N. And it offers them the high-deductible Plan F mentioned earlier as well.
  • Fourth, it has an A- rating with A.M. Best, which is still “excellent.”

USAA

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:

  • The organization has been around for nearly 100 years (it first opened its doors in 1922).
  • It serves almost every state. The only exceptions are Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Wisconsin.
  • It sells a respectable number of MedSup plans to people living in those states: A, B, C, F, and N. (Although it only sells B in Pennsylvania and C in Michigan.)

Smaller Medicare Supplement companies:

Bankers Fidelity Life

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.

Also, it sells them in all states but California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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.

Central States Indemnity of Omaha

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:

  • It sells a fair number of these plans--A, B, C, F, G, and N. (Remember, though, not all plans are sold in all states.)
  • Also, Central States Indemnity is licensed in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico. That doesn’t necessarily mean it offers any MedSup plans to people where you live, however. To find out one way or the other, you have to get a quote or otherwise contact the company.

Gerber Life Insurance

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:

  • Gerber Life has an A rating with A.M. Best.
  • Like all of the insurers discussed here, this one sells a wide range of MedSup or Medigap plans in the states it serves.
  • Speaking of which, Gerber is licensed to do business in all 50 states, as well as Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.

ManhattanLife

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.)

Sentinel Security Life

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:

  • Sentinel Security Life has been in the insurance space for 70 years--since 1948. (Admittedly, it didn’t start selling MedSup plans until 2009.)
  • Among its Medicare Supplement offerings: plans A, B, C, D, and F.
  • The company is licensed to operate in 21 states. Once again, that doesn’t mean it currently sells MedSup or Medigap plans in all of them.
  • Sentinel Security Life has a B++ (or “good”) rating with A.M. Best.

What is the Difference Between the 10 MedSup Plans?

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:

  • Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to an additional 365 days after your standard Medicare benefits end
  • Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment
  • Part B coinsurance or copayment
  • Up to three pints of blood (for medical procedures) each year

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.

When Can I Buy MedSup Coverage? Or When Should I Buy MedSup Coverage?

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.

How Can I Save Money on Medicare Supplement Insurance?

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:

  • which plan you buy
  • where you buy it
  • where you live
  • your gender
  • whether or not you smoke

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:

  • Move to an area where this kind of coverage costs less than it does where you live now.
  • Shop around and switch to a plan that charges less than your current one does.
  • See if the insurance companies that serve your area offer any discounts on these plans. (Some give discounts to women, non-smokers, people who are married, people who pay their premiums using electronic funds transfer, people who pay yearly, and more.)
  • Quit smoking.

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