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Medigap policies (also known as Medicare Supplement policies) are health insurance plans sold by private insurance companies to fill gaps in Original Medicare coverage.  One very positive aspect built into Medigap coverage is that the plans themselves were “standardized” with specific benefits so that it could be easy to compare.  These standardized plans ranged from Plan A to Plan L, with the most popular being a Plan F.


Because the plans were standardized, a Plan F with one company has to have EXACTLY the same benefits as a Plan F with any other company.  Medicare also established standards for claims payments so that the service from any one company should be comparable to the experience with all other companies.


Since the benefits are standardized and the claims service is monitored by Medicare itself, the key differences a consumer would need to pay attention to are:


  1. The financial stability of the private insurance company, and
  2. The monthly premium.


As a general rule, the first factor above can significantly affect the second, either positively or negatively.  Companies in financial trouble may raise rates more often and in higher amounts or could even go out of business.  Fortunately, if that last happens, Medicare provides a Guaranteed Issue option to purchase any other company’s plan as long as application is made within the 63 days after the other coverage ends (see our articles relating to Guaranteed Issue for more details).


In many respects, the purchase of Medigap policies compares to the purchase of automobile insurance.  You pick the benefits you want, get quotes from 5 companies, and you will find 5 different rates, sometimes covering a great range of prices for the same benefits.  In the same way, there can be 100s of dollars a month difference for the same Plan F Medicare Supplement, depending on what each company charges.  It literally pays to compare rates. 


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