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Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan B

Medigap Plan B is one of 10 standardized Medicare Supplement insurance plan options available in most states (Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin have different options). Plan B is one of the more affordable Medigap policies, but offers fewer benefits than most plans. Learn more about Medigap Plan B and if it is a good fit for your health insurance needs.

Medigap Plan B: An Overview

Medicare Supplement Plan B should not be confused with Medicare Part B, which is one of the four parts of Medicare. Part B covers outpatient services like doctor visits.1

This plan has fewer benefits than most Medigap plan options, but it’s also one of the more affordable plan options. In 2010, Plan B was the second-most affordable Medigap plan option, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.2 Only Plan A premiums were lower, on average.

Only 2% of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in a Medigap plan chose Plan B in 2016, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans’ (AHIP).

Keep reading for details on Plan B’s benefits and enrollment rates, in addition to how the benefits compare to other plans.

Plan B Benefits

Medigap Plan B is nearly identical to Plan A, but it includes one additional benefit: payment of the Medicare Part A deductible. Plan B covers 5 out of 9 standardized Medigap benefits.

Standard Medicare Supplement Insurance benefits

Plan B

Medicare Part A co-insurance and hospital costs

Medicare Part B co-insurance or co-payment

First 3 pints of blood

Part A hospice care co-insurance or co-payment

Co-insurance for skilled nursing facility

 

Part A deductible

Part B deductible

 

Part B excess charges

 

Foreign travel emergency

 

Medicare Part A co-insurance: Medicare Part A is known as hospital insurance and it includes cost-sharing measures like co-insurance. Inpatient hospital stays covered by Medicare Part A require co-insurance fees if they exceed 60 days. Medigap Plan B pays for all of these co-insurance fees.

Medicare Part B co-insurance and co-payment: Medicare Part B usually charges co-insurance and co-payments for doctor visits and other outpatient care. Medicare Part B typically pays for 80% of the Medicare-approved amount for covered services, leaving a 20% coinsurance in most cases. Plan B pays the 20% co-insurance or co-payment costs. With Plan B, you still have to pay the Medicare Part B deductible, which is $185 in 2019.

First 3 pints of blood: Original Medicare only covers the fourth pint of blood and beyond. If you need blood while in the hospital, Medigap plans cover the cost of the first 3 pints.

Part A hospice care co-insurance or co-payment: Hospice care provides medical treatment and care during a terminal illness. Medicare covers these services, but it requires co-payments. These co-payments include $5 for each symptom and pain relief prescription drugs and 5% of the Medicare-approved amount for inpatient respite care. Plan B covers these costs completely.

Medicare Part A deductible: Medicare Part A comes with a deductible, which is $1,364 per benefit period in 2019. Medigap Plan B will cover your deductible in full for each benefit period you require.

For more detailed information, read our page about Medicare Supplement Insurance benefits.

Plan option comparison

Plan B covers fewer benefits than other Medicare Supplement insurance plans such as Plans F, C and G, but it may offer lower premiums.

To see the difference between Plan B and the other standardized Medigap plans, please review the chart below.

Plan B vs. other Medigap plan options

Medicare Supplement Benefits A B C D F1 G K2 L3 M N4
Part A co-insurance and hospital costs
Part B co-insurance or co-payment 50% 75%
First 3 pints of blood 50% 75%
Part A hospice care co-insurance or co-payment 50% 75%
Co-insurance for skilled nursing facility     50% 75%
Medicare Part A deductible   50% 75% 50%
MedicarePart B deductible                
Medicare Part B excess charges                
Foreign travel emergency     80% 80% 80% 80%     80% 80%
1. Plan F offers a high-deductible plan. This plan requires you to pay a $2,300 deductible in 2019 before it covers anything. 2. Plan K has an out-of-pocket yearly limit of $5,560 in 2019. After you pay the out-of-pocket yearly limit and yearly Part B deductible, it pays 100% of covered services for the rest of the calendar year. 3. Plan L has an out-of-pocket yearly limit of $2,780 in 2019. After you pay the out-of-pocket yearly limit and yearly Part B deductible, it pays 100% of covered services for the rest of the calendar year. 4. Plan N pays 100% of the Part B coinsurance, except for a copayment of up to $20 for some office visits and up to a $50 copayment for emergency room visits that don’t result in an inpatient admission.

 

Enrollment statistics

According to 2016 statistics from AHIP, 58% of insurers with Medicare Supplement Insurance options offered Plan B.3

Despite the plan’s availability and low price, few enrollees choose this option, according to AHIP. Only 2% of Medigap policyholders chose Plan B in 2016. Plan B has become less popular in recent years. Enrollment in this plan dropped 7% between 2015 and 2016.


1 https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/part-b/what-medicare-part-b-covers.html

2 https://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/8412-2.pdf

3 https://www.ahip.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/MedigapEnrollmentReport_Linked.pdf

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