What is Medicare Supplement Plan B?

Medicare Supplement Plan B is nearly identical to Medicare Supplement Plan A, which offers the most basic level of coverage.

Plan B is one of the 10 standardized Medicare Supplement plan options available for purchase in most states, not to be confused with Medicare Part B, which covers inpatient hospital care as part of the federal Medicare program.

Not what you’re looking for? Check out this article on Medicare Part B.

The goal of Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance is to fill in some of the out-of-pocket costs left over after Original Medicare (Parts A & B) coverage. (For reference, ‘Medigap’ is another term often used for Medicare Supplement. We will use them interchangeably.)

The 10 standardized plans cover varying degrees of your Original Medicare deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. Medicare Supplement plans are labeled: A, B, C, D, F, high deductible F, G, high deductible G, K, L, M, N.

(Be careful not to confuse Medigap plans A, B, C and D with Medicare Parts A, B, C and D. They are different.)

Medigap plans are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program. Like all Medigap plans, Plan B will have the same benefits no matter which insurance carrier you buy your policy from. The only difference between a Plan B from Humana, a Plan B from Aetna, a Plan B from UnitedHealthcare AARP, or a Plan B from any other insurance carrier will be the price.*

What is Different about Plan B

Medicare Supplement Plan B is nearly identical to Medicare Supplement Plan A, which offers the most basic level of coverage.  On top of the basic coverage, Plan B covers the Medicare Part A deductible of $1,364.

Unlike a traditional deductible, the Part A deductible is per benefit period, not annual.  A benefit period begins the day of admission to a hospital or skilled nursing facility and ends 60 days after the stay ends.  If you are hospitalized in January, June and November, you could be responsible for paying the Medicare Part A deductible three times!

Medicare Supplement Plan B Popularity

Medicare Supplement Plan B is not particularly popular, but it is a great fit for certain individuals. 

Medicare Supplement Plan B covers

  • Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to 365 days after Original Medicare benefits are exhausted
  • Medicare Part B coinsurance
  • First three pints of blood for a medical procedure
  • Medicare Part A hospice care coinsurance
  • Medicare Part A deductible ($1,364 for each benefit period you use in the year)

Coinsurance is the amount left over after the 80% covered by Original Medicare

Medicare Supplement Plan B does not cover

  • Skilled Nursing Facility care coinsurance
  • Medicare Part B deductible ($185 per year in 2019)
  • Medicare Part B excess charges
  • Foreign travel emergency coverage

Why else you might want a Medicare Supplement policy

Medicare Supplement Plan B is just one of the Medigap plans available. It’s important to compare Medigap plans and choose the option that’s best for your healthcare needs (now and down the road) and your budget.

Anyone who has Original Medicare (Parts A & B) is eligible to buy a Medigap plan. You cannot however buy a Medigap plan if you have a Medicare Advantage plan.

Beneficiaries who went without a Medicare Supplement plan spent an average of $5,374 on out-of-pocket costs in 2016, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund, more than twice what those with a Supplement plan spent.

The best time to purchase a Medicare Supplement plan is during your personal initial enrollment period. Initial enrollment period is the first six months after you’re both 65 years old and enrolled in Medicare Part B. The typical enrollee will coordinate their Medigap policy to begin on the month they turn 65.

You can still buy a Plan B later, but you may have to go through medical underwriting. Underwriting could mean higher premiums or having a pre-existing condition not covered.

Medicare Advantage

You cannot have a Medicare Supplement Plan B with Medicare Advantage.

Medicare Advantage (Part C) is a private alternative to replace Original Medicare (Parts A & B) and typically offers additional benefits. Medicare Advantage plans often limit your coverage to a particular network of healthcare providers. Plans that allow you to see out-of-network providers typically charge you more.

You must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and Part B to be eligible to apply for a Medicare Advantage plan.

You may pay a premium for your Medicare Advantage plan, in addition to your Part B premium. To be clear, you will still need to pay your Part B premium.

Shop for Medicare Supplement Plan B

Look at Medicare Supplement Plan B prices with no obligation.  Enter your zip code, birthdate, gender and tobacco status to get the most accurate prices. Or, shoot us an email at [email protected], or speak with a licensed insurance agent by calling 917-408-3690.

Medicare Part B

Medicare Part B is part of Original Medicare. It is completely separate from Medicare Supplement Plan B. Why is it so confusing? We have no idea.

  • Medicare Part A is the hospital insurance portion of Original Medicare
  • Medicare Part B is the medical insurance portion of Original Medicare
  • Medicare Part C is Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage is an alternative to Original Medicare (Parts A & B) that is offered by private insurers
  • Medicare Part D is Prescription Drug Plans (PDP)
  • Medigap Plan B is one of the 10 standardized Medicare Supplement insurance plans

Part B covers:

Part B covers doctors’ visits, outpatient care, ambulance services, certain home health care, medical equipment, physical therapy, and more.

Part B also covers a variety of preventive services, including cancer screenings, flu shots, screenings for other diseases, and yearly wellness visits. These services are free as long as your health care provider accepts Medicare.

For non-preventive services, you must meet a Part B deductible, which is $185 in 2019. Once you have, you may be responsible for 20% of the Medicare-approved cost of the service.

Find out if services, tests, or other items are covered here.

Medicare Part B Premium 

The standard Medicare Part B (medical insurance) premium in 2019 is $135.50 per month. However, you may pay more or less than this amount depending on your income and other factors.

People who receive Social Security benefits will pay slightly less, around $130 on average. If you don’t receive Social Security and your income is over a certain amount, you’ll pay more.

You can find out your premium amount from the table below:

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