Which Medicare Supplement is Best

What Are You Looking For?

In some ways, the question, “Which Medicare supplement is the best?,” is like asking, “Which car is the best?” That question needs to be countered with, “Well, what are you looking for? Do you want a car that is reliable, or are you looking for comfort, or do you want great gas mileage, or would you like one that is a head-turner . . . ?”

Notice the focus on you in this last series of questions. Whenever I meet with someone, I want to help and guide them toward the best for them. Thus, the better question is not, “Which Medicare supplement is best?”, but, “Which Medicare supplement is best for you?” This helps to narrow the field. (This article focuses on Medicare supplements; note that there are definitely differences between supplements and Advantage Plans.)

The Top Ten Choices

While, there are not nearly as many choices when it comes to Medicare supplements as there are when buying a car, there are some. If you want the lowest premium and don’t mind the risk of paying an annual deductible of $2,180, you might go with the high-deductible Plan F. Or, perhaps, you want a low premium but don’t want a high deductible on your plan—and don’t mind taking the risk of no cap on your out-of-pocket spending, then you may want Plan N. Or, maybe you want the Cadillac of all supplements, so you choose Plan F. So you do have choices; after all, there are ten different Medicare supplements, which have varying deductibles (or no deductibles), copays, and coverage. (However, there are some things they all have in common—what Medicare supplements do not cover.)

Understand How Medicare Works

Therefore, we could get very complex in this article, but I have made it a practice to make the complex simple; so, let’s narrow down the list. However, before reading further, it is important for you to understand how Medicare works in order to better understand how the supplements work. Keep in mind that a Medicare supplement can only provide coverage on a medical event that Medicare covers; it works in conjuncture with Medicare. So, you might want to read (or re-read) my blog post on “How Does Medicare Work?”

Narrowing the List of Medicare Supplements

The most popular Medicare supplement is Plan F, followed by Plan G, then Plan N. The high-deductible Plan F drops to halfway down the list in terms of popularity. Due to the amount of potential out-of-pocket costs (money you would have to pay for deductibles, copays, and not covered expenses), people tend to avoid the seven least popular supplements; and I concur with that avoidance. So, let’s fast-forward to the three most popular supplements and analyze them.

What’s Wrong with Plan N?

The third most popular supplement is Plan N. In my opinion, it sits in this position because of its low premium (at least with some insurance companies) and because of its appearance of fairly low out-of-pocket costs. I say “appearance” because one could actually have an extensive bill with the N Plan; and here is where we approach its downside.

Like Plan F and Plan G, the N Plan does a great job of covering Part A out-of-pocket potential expenses. On medical events covered by Medicare (keep in mind the basic adage that if Medicare does not cover something, the supplement will not cover it, either) under Part A, Plan N will pick up the rest, including the Part A deductible, the per day hospital stay and the per day skilled nursing stay (that is, from days 21 to 100). However, expenses could still be incurred in the hospital under Plan N—those which fall under Part B Medicare.

Under Part B coverage, Plan N has a deductible, which is $223 (2023). After meeting the deductible, which applies for doctor office visits, doctor charges in the hospital, and outpatient medical (labs, tests, x-rays, MRIs, etc.), there is a $20 copay for each Part B charge. In addition, there is a $50 copay for each emergency room visit. However, the two most problematic issues with Plan N are: the excess fee and no maximum out of pocket on the insured’s expenses.

The excess fee applies to doctors who choose not to accept a Medicare assignment (that is, they choose not to limit themselves to Medicare’s contractual payment to doctors). Those particular doctors can charge an extra 15% over and above Medicare’s contractual agreement. So who gets stuck paying the extra 15%? The insured who possesses the N Plan gets to pay it, which can really add up.

Suppose you have a hospital stay in which half a dozen doctors bill you (not unusual at all!). Let’s say two of those doctors have not accepted a Medicare assignment (entirely possible). This would mean you get to pay two bills of an additional 15% charge! Depending on the original charge, this could be a significant hit to the pocketbook!

On top of that, with Plan N, you will get charged a $20 copay for each bill the other doctors charge you. Even worse, there is no cap on your out-of-pocket spending with the N Plan. You could just keep getting billed!

For these reasons, I do not recommend Plan N. But we have two more supplements to examine.

Plan F: Is It Worth It?

The F Plan is currently the most popular of all the supplements; however, it will soon be replaced in that position by Plan G. Its coverage and convenience have made Plan F the choice of many in the past. On any medical event covered by Medicare, the holder of the F Plan should have zero out of pocket! This makes this plan very convenient, as the insured does not have to mess with copays and deductibles; just show your card, and that’s the end of it.

Up till recently (the past year, or so), Plan F, among many insurance companies, has been a good buy. But two things have occurred which have caused me to recommend the G Plan.

First, a number of insurance companies have lowered the premium on Plan G. With some companies, the Plan G premium is low enough that the insured will save approximately $200 per year with the G Plan versus Plan F, even after meeting the Plan G deductible.

Second, as of 2020, Plan F and Plan C will no longer be offered, plans which pay the Part B deductible. Because insurance premiums are based, largely, on claims and the size of the pool of insureds (that is, for example, the amount of people in a particular area who have Plan F), when a plan is no longer offered, the size of that insured pool will eventually shrink. When it shrinks, it will not have the ability to absorb claims as well, which will cause premiums to go up. This all means that, eventually, Plan F will become very expensive to have. And because, outside of your introductory open enrollment, you need to health-qualify to change supplements, it is better to get the right plan now. (Look for another article on this topic.)

Plan G: The Winner!

This leaves Plan G as my recommendation for a supplement. It provides the best value when looking at coverage versus premium. However, with the supplement decision solved, there still remains the choice of insurance company which carries Plan G.

Which Insurance Company Is the Best for You?

Many insurance companies offer Plan G, so which one is the best for you? In answering this question, it is important to realize that Medicare has designed all of the supplements but has handed them over to private insurance companies to administrate and to sell. In addition, Medicare is in control of the coverage, as Medicare determines what is covered; and the supplement, then, follows Medicare’s lead in payment of claims.

All of this means that Plan G will be exactly the same plan from one insurance company to the next. There will be no difference in how your Plan G pays claims, even if you get the plan with the most expensive of insurance companies.

In fact, there will only be two differences in a Plan G from one insurance company to the next: 1) the premium the insurance company charges for that plan currently; and, 2) the rate increases the company may have in the future. While no one can predict the future, a good, experienced, independent (all key terms) insurance agent should be able to tell you about past performance (past rate increases) of companies, which can be used as a predictor of future rate increases. Such an agent should also be able to let you know about companies with the lowest Plan G rates in your area.

Based on all of this information, what is the best Medicare supplement for you? In my opinion, it is Plan G with the insurance company with the lowest premium and lowest history of rate increases in your area. Just find the agent who will help you enroll on that plan, and you will be doing yourself well with your Medicare coverage.


KevinKevin
14:47 24 Jan 24
John is a very knowledgeable subject matter expert and is thorough in his approach. He takes time breaking down and explaining what can be a somewhat complex subject and helps makes it easier to understand! John always has the best interests of his clients guiding his recommendations. We have found John's advice to be extremely helpful and would recommend him to anyone seeking health insurance.
Laura BogenschutzLaura Bogenschutz
18:06 21 Jan 24
John Claeys is the best! He has helped my husband and I tremendously with our Medicare and supplement coverage! He breaks it down to where you can understand it! We would be so confused without John!! Thank you John for being there for us!!
Thompson FamilyThompson Family
15:46 18 Jan 24
John Claeys is one of the most knowledgeable individuals on Medicare and supplemental insurance plans you can ever find. Not only is he very personable he also stays involved from year to year to ensure you have the best policies for your current needs.
Ingrid FauskeeIngrid Fauskee
23:21 17 Jan 24
I just got a Medicare plan through John Claeys. I was getting a lot of mail about Medicare and was so confused. Some friends told me about John so I emailed him and he contacted me right away.. He was amazing! He went through everything with me, he explained every detail and was so patient with all my questions . So grateful to him for all he did. Thank you John.😁
John Claeys helped me understand the in's and out's of Medicare. He found the best insurance and prescription plan to best suit my needs at an affordable price.Thank you John!Laurie Boriskie
Marsha AllenMarsha Allen
16:55 24 Oct 23
My experience with John was definitely 5 Star! He explained everything thoroughly, and simply. He answered all my questions regarding Medicare completely. I would absolutely recommend John, without reservation.
Linda WilliamsLinda Williams
10:08 12 Jul 23
I had a 5 star experience and would recommend him. Always returning my calls promptly, very helpful and informative, listened to what my needs was regarding my Medicare. I truly felt comfortable with John's help to navigate through the maze of Medicare
Cindy KulakCindy Kulak
14:51 18 Jun 23
John is very knowledgable, honest and ethical in helping clients evaluate Medicare options and get enrolled. He made the process extremely easy for myself and my husband.
Dale SimsDale Sims
16:28 11 May 23
John did a great job of explaining Medicare and supplemental insurance. He was thorough and patient. He answered all of my questions. I greatly appreciated his help.
Leeann MoosLeeann Moos
17:26 06 Apr 23
When I became eligible for Medicare, my phone was constantly under attack from Medicare options sales folk. Since I needed help understanding my options and life is too short to do business with annoying people a little research was in order. Thats how I found John. His other customers seem very pleased with his service and I decided to give him a try. I was NOT disappointed! He did an excellent job for me, is extremely personable and I could not be happier. Thank you John
Rose WrightRose Wright
16:07 05 Apr 23
I am so thankful for the help that Mr. John was able to assist me with medicare information. After being bombarded with letters and phone calls you just need someone who can walk you through the confusion. And after getting all the info and the best plan and benefits for what i needed. I am glad that He was there for me.Thank you so very much,Rose Wright
Steve HenselSteve Hensel
21:08 04 Apr 23
Claeys Group is great to work with. John is truly professional, knowledgeable and makes the entire process flow so much more smoothly than I expected. I would highly recommend him.
Deborah RounsavallDeborah Rounsavall
14:25 07 Mar 23
I changed from my person finance planning group to John for help. Others led me astray. John is very responsive and follows up promptly. Even helped me on the weekend at the end of year to get all my documents in on time so I didn't lose insurance coverage. Explains all the options in a manner that us rookies can understand it. I highly recommend John.
Setella ParksSetella Parks
13:12 07 Mar 23
John's knowledge is invaluable when it comes to navigating the murky water of Medicare plans. He answered all our questions in a manner we could understand and helped us compare benefits between plans, services, and providers readily available in our area. I am so happy we called on him to assist us! He handled EVERYTHING professionally and patiently and has followed up to make sure we are good. Highly recommend his 5 star service!
Sherry JonesSherry Jones
21:01 23 Feb 23
John was recommended by my sister-in-law, who spoke very highly of him. He wrote out the differences between policies and explained it step by step to me so I could understand which policy would be best for my needs. He was professional but also down to earth so I could be at ease. He did this at my bed side which was such a blessing for me. I highly recommend John for your Insurance needs.
T/D HT/D H
19:40 20 Feb 23
We were recommended by friends to call John Claeys for our insurance. He came twice to gather information on what we were looking for and returned with information and details. We are delighted to have John Claeys as our agent and would recommend to our friends and anyone else to call John Claeys today.Tom and Debbie
Joyce SandvikJoyce Sandvik
20:32 30 Aug 22
John Claeys came to our house to talk about all aspects of Medicare. He wrote out some information on a notepad as he talked and answered our questions. He gave us the handwritten notes along with printouts of more information specific to my needs. My husband and I took o a few days to discuss the options. John took a list of my medications and researched all the available prescription insurance policies for me. He narrowed it down to the best policy (best prescription prices) for me. It was so easy and I felt confident I was getting exactly what I need when I turn 65. Every September, he will research prescription policies from my updated list of medications to find the best policy for my needs. Thanks to John Claeys for making this transition extremely easy and effortless.
Marilyn ScottMarilyn Scott
09:35 23 Jul 22
John enrolled my husband into Medicare 4 years ago. I knew then I wanted him to help me with my Medicare when it was my time to enroll. John helped me recently. He is very knowledgeable, humble and so patient. He made sure I had the best plan for me. He genuinely cares about his clients. He is the best insurance consultant! I highly recommend John for your Medicare needs!!
James MartinJames Martin
20:31 20 Jun 22
John did a great job of providing many options for my insurance. He is very thorough.
Judy MarkmanJudy Markman
17:02 20 Jun 22
John goes above and beyond to find the best insurance to fit your needs at an affordable price. I definitely recommend!
Dave LemingDave Leming
16:56 20 Jun 22
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