The most popular Medicare Supplement plans are Plans F, C, and G, according to 2012 statistics from America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). Plan F is by far the most popular Medigap plan, according to the AHIP data, accounting for over half of all Medigap policies in 2012.

The table below ranks the popularity of the 10 Medigap plan options currently available for purchase in most states. These options are uniform everywhere except Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin, which have different options.

Popularity Ranking* Plan Name Total Enrollment in 2012 Share of Total**
1 F 5,057,890 52.8%
2 C 1,211,857 12.7%
3 G 452,782 4.7%
4 B 394,166 4.1%
5 N 358,165 3.7%
6 D 259,792 2.7%
7 A 165,796 1.7%
8 L 103,029 1.1%
9 K 43,012 0.4%
10 M 5,413 0.1%
*Information is based on AHIP statistics.
**The percentages in this column do not add up to 100% because discontinued plans (Plans E, H, I, and J) and waiver states (Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin) are not included.

According to the AHIP report, there were nearly 9.6 million people enrolled in a Medigap plan in 2012. Over 70%, or 6.7 million total enrollees, were in Plan F, C, or G. The top 3 plans are all high-coverage plans that include 8 or more benefits.

The least popular Medigap plans are cost-sharing plans, such as Plans K and L, and newer plans, such as Plan M. Plan L represented only 1.1% of the total market. Plan K represented 0.4% of the total market, while Plan M represented a meager 0.1% of the total market.

Reasons for popularity

There are several reasons why consumers choose certain Medigap plan options over others.

The most popular Medigap plans — Plans C, F, and G — are the most benefits-rich plans in the Medicare Supplement insurance market. Plans F and C are often called “first-dollar coverage” plans because each covers all of the Medicare deductibles and co-insurance. The third most popular plan, Plan G, is very similar to Plan C. The only difference is that Plan G does not cover the Medicare Part B deductible but does cover Medicare Part B excess charges.

Although first-dollar coverage Medigap plans are the most popular, some beneficiaries choose other plan options with fewer benefits, likely because these plans tend to be cheaper. Plans with limited benefits, such as Plan A and Plan B, can offer lower premium costs than other plans.

Some beneficiaries choose a Medigap plan based on benefits or price, but other times it is a combination of these and other factors. In a 2013 report, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) said that it is “not entirely clear how beneficiaries choose among Medigap plans, whether they are motivated mainly by low premiums, a comfort level with a brand, or some combination of factors.”

KFF did elaborate that the standardization of benefits helps beneficiaries compare and contrast various Medigap benefits and premiums between different plans.

Another reason why certain plans are more popular than others is due to plan availability. In most states, insurance companies can offer a range of the 10 available Medigap plans. Some insurers offer the bare minimum Plan A, while others offer nearly all Medigap plans. For example, the KFF report found that Plan A was offered by 86% of insurance companies while only 9% offered Plan M.

Change in popularity

Medigap plans fluctuate in popularity from year to year. The AHIP report tracked enrollment changes from 2010 to 2012. The table below details AHIP statistics regarding the enrollment figures and percent changes during that time period.

Plan Name Total Enrollment – 2010 Total Enrollment – 2012 Percent Change
A 192,387 165,796 -13.8%
B 451,192 394,166 -12.6%
C 1,400,045 1,211,857 -13.4%
D 332,604 259,792 -21.9%
F 4,201,883 5,057,890 +20.4%
G 331,960 452,782 +36.4%
K 29,497 43,012 +45.8%
L 39,929 103,029 +158%
M 265 5,413 +1942.6%
N 148,207 358,165 +141.7%

From 2010 to 2012, some plans grew while others shrank. AHIP data shows that Plans F, G, K, L, M, and N all increased in popularity while Plans A, B, C, and D all decreased in popularity.

Certain plans saw small changes while others experienced extraordinary growth. Plan M had the largest percentage growth, increasing nearly 1943%, and Plan F had the largest total increase with 856,007 new enrollees, according to AHIP statistics.

Although the benefits-rich plans such as Plan F and C still remain at the top of the list, according to AHIP, some newer Medigap plans have experienced significant growth in two years’ time. If the same growth is seen in upcoming years, options such as Plan N could join the top 3 rankings.

Medicare beneficiaries can enroll in any available Medigap plan, regardless of its popularity. Despite this, is it helpful to review the options and reasons why hundreds of thousands or even millions of people choose one plan over another.