Medicare supplement insurance plans , also known as Medigap, are standardized Insurance plans specifically designed to work with Original or “Traditional” Medicare. Choosing your Medigap plans help you customize your Medicare plan. You can choose the Medigap and Part D prescription plan that best fits your needs and your budget. Being able to customize your plan is an advantage to the Medicare beneficiary, unlike the so called “Medicare Advantage” plans which are one size fits all plans.

There are ten different Medigap plans available: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, & N. These plans are standardized. This they must have the same policy form regardless of which company sells them. The premiums and the level of service offered by each company can vary greatly. Most people choose Medigap plans F, G, N, & L.

In 2015, congress passed a law which will prohibit the sale of Plan F starting in the year 2020. For now, you can still buy Plan F and you will be able to keep Plan F if you already have it, but this may be a good time to learn about some other good plans.

Plans G and N have become popular as a way to save money on premiums and still provide almost the same coverage as Plan F. The only difference in a Plan F and a Plan G is that the G Plan does not pay the Part B deductible. Currently that deductible is the first $147 of Part B charges Medicare approves each year. The premium on Plan G is around 25% lower than Plan F.

Plan N requires you to pay your Part B deductible and a copay for doctor visits and the emergency room. The copay for doctor visits cannot exceed $20 and the copay at the ER cannot exceed $50. The copay at the ER is waived if you are admitted to the hospital. Plan N pays the 20% and the Part A deductible. The premium on Plan N is around 30% lower than Plan F.

Plan L pays 75% of the Part A deductible, 100% of the Hospital copays, extends hospital coverage by 365 days,  and pays 75% of the skilled nursing facility copays. Plan L pays 75% of the 20% Part B coinsurance which means the policy holder only has to pay 5% of Part B charges. Plan L does not pay the Part B deductible, Part B excess charges or foreign travel emergency benefits. The plan has an out of pocket limit of $2,470 per year. The premium is about 40% lower than Plan F.

Any of these plans pay the majority of what Medicare doesn’t pay and you are free to use any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare patients anywhere in the country.

Any of these Medigap plans give you you a choice of which Medicare Part D plan you choose. Medicare Advantage plans do not let you choose your Part D prescription plan. Choosing your own Part D prescription plan could save you several hundred dollars. Having the flexibility to choose your Medigap plan and your Part D plan should be seen as an Advantage for the Medicare beneficiary.