Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans

Overview

Medicare Parts A and B (sometimes called "Original Medicare") pays for many, but not all, health care services and supplies. A Medicare Supplement Insurance plan, sold by private insurance companies, may help pay some of the health care costs that Medicare Parts A and B don't pay such as copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. Some Medicare Supplement Insurance plans offer coverage for additional services such as medical care when you travel outside the U.S.

If you have Original Medicare Parts A and B and you buy a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan, both will pay their share of Medicare-approved amounts for covered health care services.

Every Medicare Supplement Insurance plan must follow Federal and state laws designed to protect you and it must clearly be identified as "Medicare Supplement Insurance." Insurance companies can only sell you a "standardized" Medicare Supplement policy identified in most states by letters, Plans A-N. All plans offer the same basic benefits but some offer additional benefits, so you can choose which one best meets your needs.

Note: In Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin, Medicare Supplement plans are standardized in a different way

A Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare

This official government guide has important information about the following:

  • What a Medicare Supplement Insurance policy is
  • What Medicare Supplement policies cover
  • Your rights to buy a Medicare Supplement insurance policy
  • Steps to follow when you buy a Medicare Supplement insurance policy
  • Switching Medicare Supplement policies

For Massachusetts Residents (PDF)
For Minnesota Residents (PDF)
For Wisconsin Residents (PDF)
For residents of all other states or territories (PDF)

How much does Medicare Supplement Insurance cost?

Insurance companies may charge different premiums for exactly the same Medicare Supplement coverage. As you shop for a Medicare Supplement policy, be sure you are comparing the same Medicare Supplement policy (for example, compare Plan A from one company with Plan A from another company.)

How do I enroll?

You can apply to buy a Medicare Supplement Insurance policy any time after you reach age 65 and join Medicare Part B. Medicare guarantees you the right to buy any Medicare Supplement Insurance policy available where you live during the six months after you turn 65 and enroll in Medicare Part B. This six-month period is called your open enrollment period. Some states have ongoing open enrollment. Also, there may be other situations during which you are guaranteed acceptance into certain Medicare supplement plans.

During this time, an insurer can't consider your medical history or current health when setting the plan's premium. However, they may be able to make you wait for six months before coverage begins if you have a pre-existing condition when you buy the plan. After your open enrollment period ends, insurers can refuse coverage or charge you a higher premium based on your health.

Each private insurance company that offers Medicare Supplement Insurance plans handles the enrollment process for its plans. You'll need to contact the company directly and ask how to enroll.

You can contact your state's State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to get a list of plans offered in your state. offers access to one-on-one counseling, education programs and other assistance. State Health Insurance Assistance Programs are federally funded for people with Medicare and their families.

Important Disclosures

AARP endorses the AARP® Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, insured by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company (UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company of New York, Islandia, NY). UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company pays royalty fees to AARP for the use of its intellectual property. These fees are used for the general purposes of AARP. AARP and its affiliates are not insurers.

AARP does not employ or endorse agents, brokers or producers.

Insured by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company, Horsham, PA (UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company of New York, Islandia, NY for New York residents). Policy form No. GRP 79171 GPS-1 (G-36000-4). In some states plans may be available to persons under age 65 who are eligible for Medicare by reason of disability or End-Stage Renal Disease.

You must be an AARP member to enroll in an AARP Medicare Supplement Plan.

Not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. Government or the federal Medicare program.

This is a solicitation of insurance. A licensed insurance agent/producer may contact you.

Call a licensed insurance agent/producer at 1-866-408-5545 (TTY 711) to receive complete information including benefits, costs, eligibility requirements, exclusions and limitations.

WB25712 ST

Questions? Call UnitedHealthcare at:
1-877-699-5710
(TTY 711)
Hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. local time,
7 days a week

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Optional supplemental service (rider)

Additional coverage you can add to your Medicare Advantage plan. Examples of optional plan services covered with riders include: dental coverage and fitness programs.

Optional supplemental service (rider)

Additional coverage you can add to your Medicare Advantage plan. Examples of optional plan services covered with riders include: dental coverage and fitness programs.

Optional supplemental plan (rider)

Additional coverage you can add to your Medicare Advantage plan. Examples of optional plan services covered with riders include: dental coverage, vision and hearing coverage and fitness programs.

Creditable Coverage

Refers to prescription drug coverage that offers benefits the same as or better than coverage available through Medicare.

Tier 1: Preferred Generic. Lowest Copay.

This tier includes lower-cost, commonly used generic drugs. Use Tier 1 drugs for the lowest out-of-pocket costs.

Tier 2: Non-Preferred Generic. Low Copay.

This tier includes most generic drugs. Use Tier 2 drugs, instead of Tier 3 or 4, to help reduce your out-of-pocket costs.

Tier 5 : Specialty Tier. Coinsurance.

This tier includes unique and/or very high-cost drugs. You pay a percentage of the total drug cost, called coinsurance.

Tier 4: Non-Preferred Brand. Highest Copay.

This tier includes non-preferred generic and non-preferred brand drugs. Many Tier 4 drugs have lower-cost options in Tier 1, 2 or 3. Ask your doctor if you can switch to one of these drugs to help reduce your out-of-pocket costs.

Tier 3: Preferred Brand. Medium Copay.

This tier includes many common brand name drugs, called preferred brands, and some higher-cost generic drugs. Many Tier 3 drugs have lower-cost options in Tier 1 or 2. Ask your doctor if they could work for you.

Tier 4: Non-Preferred Brand. Highest Copay.

This tier includes non-preferred generic and non-preferred brand drugs. Many Tier 4 drugs have lower-cost options in Tier 1, 2 or 3. Ask your doctor if you can switch to one of these drugs to help reduce your out-of-pocket costs.

Drug List tool tip

A list of drugs covered by your Medicare Part D plan. A drug list may also be referred to as a covered prescription drugs list (CML), a preferred drug list (PDL), a select drug list or a formulary. These drugs are dispensed through participating network pharmacies to covered members. Drug lists may differ between Medicare prescription drug plans.


Carefully weigh the differences in drug lists against the plan costs and other features when choosing a plan that may best meet your needs. A drug list may change during the year.

Tier 2: Low Copay

This tier includes most generic drugs. Use Tier 2 drugs, instead of drugs in Tiers 3 or 4 to help reduce your out-of-pocket costs.

Coverage Gap Stage:

During the Coverage Gap Stage, you (or others on your behalf) will pay no more than 72% of the total cost for generic drugs or 47.5% of the total cost for brand name drugs, for any drug tier until the total amount you (or others on your behalf) have paid reaches $4,550 in year-to-date out-of-pocket costs.

You may pay less if your plan has better coverage in the gap.

Always use your Medicare Part D member ID card during the coverage gap to get the plan's discounted drug rates. The money you spend using your card counts toward your out-of-pocket costs.

Out-of-Pocket Costs:

The amount you (or others pay on your behalf) pay for prescription drugs starting January 1, 2013 not including premiums.

Premium (or monthly premium)

The monthly fee you pay for Medicare coverage.

Deductible/annual deductible

The pre-set, fixed amount you must pay for healthcare or prescription drug costs before Medicare or the plan begins to pay.

Deductible/Annual deductible

The pre-set, fixed amount you must pay for healthcare or prescription drugs costs before the insurance company or Medicare begins to pay.

Coinsurance

A kind of cost sharing where you pay a percentage of the cost of a service. For example, a plan might pay 75% and you would pay 25%. In Medicare Advantage, coinsurance varies depending on the plan.

Copay

A kind of cost sharing where you pay a predictable, pre-set amount for a service, such as an annual check-up.

Copay

A kind of cost sharing where you pay a predictable, pre-set amount for a service, such as an office visit.

Primary Care Physician's name and ID

Your primary care physician (PCP) plays an important role in your health care, and we want you to have the opportunity to select one you are comfortable with. Your PCP can:

  • Help you make good lifestyle choices to maintain and improve your health.
  • Serve as a direct point of contact in case of an emergency.
  • Manage the drugs prescribed to you and identify potential adverse interactions.
  • Coordinate the care of specialists who may diagnose and treat your conditions.
  • Help ensure that you are getting the care you need while helping to minimize your out-of-pocket costs.

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