Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans

What is a Medicare Supplement policy?

A “Medicare Supplement Insurance” policy (also called Medigap) is private health insurance that’s designed to supplement Original Medicare. This means it helps pay some of the health care costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover (like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles). These are "gaps" in Medicare coverage. If you have Original Medicare and a Medicare Supplement policy, Medicare will pay its share of the Medicare-approved amounts for covered health care costs. Then your Medicare Supplement policy pays its share. A Medicare Supplement policy is different from a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) because those plans are ways to get Medicare benefits, while a Medigap policy only supplements your Original Medicare benefits. Note: Medicare doesn’t pay any of the costs for you to get a Medigap policy.

Every Medicare Supplement policy must follow federal and state laws designed to protect you, and the policy must be clearly identified as “Medicare Supplement Insurance.” Medigap insurance companies in most states can only sell you a “standardized” Medigap policy, identified by letters A through N. Each standardized Medicare Supplement policy must offer the same basic benefits, no matter which insurance company sells it. Cost is usually the only difference between Medicare Supplement policies with the same letter sold by different insurance companies.

In Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, Medicare Supplement policies are standardized in a different way. In some states, you may be able to buy another type of Medicare Supplement policy called Medicare SELECT. Medicare SELECT plans are standardized plans that may require you to see certain providers and may cost less than other plans.