Written by Ari Parker — Updated: Thursday, September 21, 2023
As the two most common Medicare Supplement plans available to new enrollees, Plan N and Plan G both provide excellent coverage and eliminate almost all Medicare out-of-pocket costs. Plan N has slightly less coverage, and also lower premiums.
After a brief overview of the benefits that all Medicare Supplement plans offer, we’ll dive into the details of how these two plans differ and how you should choose between Plan N and Plan G.
Medicare Supplement plans (also commonly called Medigap plans) stack on top of your Original Medicare coverage to help cover the 20% of costs that Medicare doesn’t pay. There are ten different types of plans, labeled by letters A through N, and each plan letter type (e.g., every Medigap Plan G) has identical coverage, regardless of the monthly premium and insurance carrier.
The main reason Medicare beneficiaries choose to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan is to reduce their out-of-pocket costs. To demonstrate the value, consider someone who’s enrolled in a Plan G. After meeting their annual deductible ($226 in 2023), they will owe nothing for Medicare-covered services for the rest of the year.
In his book, It’s Not That Complicated, our Lead Advisor, Ari Parker, shares a story about the cost of his mother’s knee replacement:
“My mother’s outpatient knee replacement would have cost $8,000 out of pocket had she not secured Medigap insurance. Instead, on her Plan G, she reached the Part B annual deductible and did not owe a penny more. No hidden surprises or extra costs for follow-up visits.”
Since Plan F is not available to those who turn 65 after January 1, 2020, Medigap Plans G and F have become the most popular Medigap plans. Plan G currently accounts for 32% of Medicare Supplement enrollees and Plan N accounts for 10% (source). These numbers will likely increase as a larger percentage of Medicare-eligible individuals don’t have access to Plan F.
Outside of Plan F, Plan G offers more coverage than all other Medigap plans. This is why Plan G is generally considered the best Medicare Supplement plan. Plan N is a close second in terms of coverage, and because Plan N provides a little less coverage, the premiums are also lower. Let’s look at the specifics.
Both Plan N and Plan G cover almost all of your out-of-pocket expenses. The only things Plan G covers that Plan N doesn’t are:
|Benefit||Plan G||Plan N|
|Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to an additional 365 days after Medicare benefits are used up||✓||✓|
|Part B coinsurance and copayments||✓||✓|
|Blood (first 3 pints)||✓||✓|
|Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment||✓||✓|
|Skilled nursing facility coinsurance||✓||✓|
|Part A deductible||✓||✓|
|Part B deductible||X||X|
|Part B excess charge||✓||X|
|Foreign travel exchange (up to plan limits)||80%||80%|
Medigap Plan N premiums are lower than those for Plan G. Exact plans and pricing vary based on a number of factors:
If you live in Virginia, premiums for Plan N range from $81-$359. For Plan G, the range is from $105-$419.
In California, Plan N premiums range from $105-$186. Plan G premiums range from $137-$257.
Medigap Plan N and Medigap Plan G are both popular for a reason—they significantly reduce your out-of-pocket costs. Which one is right for you depends on your personal healthcare needs, financial situation, and preferences.
Note: If you live in one of the following states with a Medigap birthday or anniversary rule, you have an opportunity once a year to change from one Medigap plan to another without going through medical underwriting. These rules generally allow you to change from a Plan G to a Plan N, but not from a Plan N to a Plan G.