Medicare Supplement Plans - Overview

Information on Medicare Supplement Insurance

Medicare Supplement Plans, also known as Medigap Plans, are insurance policies that help cover some or all of the deductible, coinsurance, copay, and excess charge gaps that are not covered by Medicare, and are available to anyone enrolled in part A and B of Medicare.

Medicare supplements are somewhat unique in that, although this is insurance, Medicare has mandated a level of standardization that makes it easier to shop for Medicare supplements. As an example, many people aren't familiar with the fact that a Medicare Supplement Plan F from one company can be priced at $200/month while the same exact plan and coverage from another company can be around $100/month. No difference in benefit. No difference in physician's networks. The exact same Medicare supplement coverage! That bit of understanding can save someone $100/month or almost $1,200/year. We can ensure you find the Medicare supplement plan that's going to save you the most money. Get your Medicare Supplement Insurance quote online with us today!

Guaranteed Acceptance

Additionally, if you are just turning 65, you are guaranteed acceptance in any medicare supplement plan from any carrier as long as you enroll in a plan within six months after you turn age 65. All you have to do is make sure you are enrolled in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B, pick and plan, and submit your application.

What Medicare Doesn't Cover

Medicare does not cover all health care costs. Medicare coverage consists of Part A (which covers hospital and skilled nursing facility care), and Part B (which covers doctor bills and other medical expenses).

Even with Medicare Part A and Part B coverage, you're responsible for some out-of-pocket expenses including:

Medicare Supplement Plans are Standardized

By law, Medicare Supplement insurance is standardized into twelve plans (Plans A through N). That means Plan F from one company must include the same benefits as plan F from another company. Since Medicare Supplement insurance plans are standardized and all insurance companies offer the same basic supplemental coverage, your Medicare supplement choice comes down to price and a company's service, reputation and experience with Medicare supplement insurance policies.

In addition to the standard Plan A-L Medicare supplement health care policies, Medicare SELECT is a type of Medicare Supplement health care policy that can cost less than standard Medicare supplemental. However, you can only go to certain doctors and hospitals for your care. In Illinois, Medicare Select plans are offered by BlueCross Blue Shield of Illinois.

Illinois - Most Popular Medicare Supplement Companies

Mutual of OmahaBlue Cross BlueShield of Illinois

BCBSIL - Most Popular Illinois Medicare Supplement Plans

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois offers the most popular Medicare Supplement plans in Illinois with the most competitive rates. For additional information on these plans:

Mutual of Omaha - Lowest Cost Illinois Medicare Supplement Plans

Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement Plans are highly popular in Illinois and usually have the lowest rates. They take an attained-age rating approach to pricing their Medicare supplements and have lower rates for non-tobacco users.


To qualify for a Medicare Supplement policy, you must be age 65 or older (may vary by state), enrolled in Medicare parts A and B, and you must reside in the state in which you are applying for supplemental coverage.

When to Enroll

Your open enrollment period is the best time to buy a Medicare Supplement policy because companies must sell you any plan they offer regardless of your pre-existing health conditions. Your open enrollment period lasts for 6 months and begins on the first day of the month in which you are age 65 or older and enrolled in Part A and B of Medicare.

An insurer must offer you any plan it sells and cannot charge more because of present or past health conditions during open enrollment.

Late Enrollment

To help control rising costs, carriers apply the pre-existing condition clause to newly issued Medicare Supplement plans in most states if you enroll after the open enrollment period. Expenses resulting from a condition existing six months prior to the supplemental policy effective date are not covered unless they are incurred three months after the supplemental policy effective date.

If the supplemental policy replaces another creditable individual or group insurance coverage due to a person's eligibility for Medicare, this Pre-Existing Conditions Limitation will be reduced by the number of months that coverage was in force. If this supplemental policy replaces another Medicare Supplement policy, this Pre-Existing Conditions Limitation will be reduced by the number of months that the coverage was in force.

Medicare Supplement Basic Benefits

Basic benefits included in all plans include:

Medicare Supplement Benefits by Plan

The chart below shows the standard benefits included in each plan.

A B C D F* G K** L** N
Basic Benefits X X X X X X 50% 75% X
Skilled Nursing Coinsurance - - X X X X 50% 75% X
Part A Deductible - - X X X X 50% 75% X
Part B Deductible - - - - X - - - -
Part B Excess - - - - 100% 100% - - 100%
Foreign Travel Emergency - - X X X X - - X
At Home Recovery - - - - - - - - -
Preventive Care - - - - - - - - -

*Plan F also has a high deductible option, which some companies may offer. These high deductible plans pay the same benefits as Plan F after one has paid a calendar year $2,110 deductible. Benefits from high deductible Plans F will not begin until out-of-pocket expenses exceed $2,110.

**Plan K and Plan L provide for different cost-sharing than plans A-F. Once you reach the annual limit, the plan pays 100% of the Medicare copayments, coinsurance and deductibles for the rest of the calendar year. The out-of-pocket annual limit does NOT include charges from your provider that exceed Medicare-approved amounts, called "excess charges." You will be responsible for paying excess charges.

BCBSIL Medicare Supplment Plan Options

Blue Cross BlueShield of Illinois
  Basic Benefit Options Premier Plan Options Budget-Conscious Plan Options
  Plan A Plan B Plan C Plan F Plan G High Deductible
Plan F
Plan K* Plan L* Plan N*
Reduced Premium Medicare Select Option Available (eligibility based on ZIP code)  
Basic Benefits 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%/50% 100%/75%
Skilled Nursing Coinsurance     100% 100% 100% 100% 50% 75% 100%
Part A Deductible   100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 50% 75% 100%
Part B Deductible     100% 100%   100%      
Part B Excess       100% 100% 100%      
Foreign Travel Emergency Care        
Annual Out of Pocket Limit**             $4,800 $2,400  

*Plans K-N provide for different cost-sharing than plans A-G.
Plans K and L pay 100% of hospitalization and preventive care Basic Benefits. All other Basic Benefits are paid at 50% (Plan K) and 75% (Plan L). Once you reach the annual limit, the plan pays 100% of the Medicare copayments, coinsurance and deductibles for the rest of the calendar year. The out-of-pocket annual limit does NOT include charges from your provider that exceed Medicare-approved amounts, called "excess charges." You are responsible for paying excess charges.
Plan N covers Basic Benefits after a $20 copay for office visits and a $50 copay for emergency room visits.
**The out-of-pocket annual limit may increase each year for inflation. (2014 limits shown)
† Network restrictions apply

2014 Medicare Supplement Changes

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently announced modest increases in 2014 premiums and deductibles for Medicare, as follows:

Core benefits

All plan designs continue to provide the same core benefits for Medigap in 2014, although some plans cover them differently. Core benefits include:

Medicare Part A Deductible

The Medicare Part A annual deductible increased from $1,156 in 2013 to $1,216 in 2014.

For each day someone stays in the hospital after 60 days, the deductible increased from $289 to $296 in 2014.

Medicare Part B Deductible

The Medicare Part B annual deductible remained at $147 in 2013 and 2014.

Medicare Part B Premiums

The monthly Medicare Part B premium for most retirees increased from $99.90 in 2012 to $104.90 in 2013. This premium is required if you want to receive Part B coverage, which pays for physicians and other outpatient services. Retirees with high incomes (adjusted gross incomes of $85,000 for single taxpayers, $170,000 for married filing jointly) pay higher premiums. The good news is that the 2013 Medicare Part B premium is lower than the projected rate of $109 per month for 2013 and even lower than the 2011 premium for new retirees, which dropped from $115.40 in 2011 to $99.90 in 2012. (Note: The $5 increase in the Medicare Part B premium eats up a small portion of the modest 2013 Social Security cost of living adjustment of 1.7 percent, which will average out to about $21 per month.)

Most Medicare beneficiaries in Illinois are not directly affected by these increased costs because they have a Medicare supplement Plan F or are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.