Know the differences between Medicare Supplement Plan N and Plan G

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. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Medicare Supplement (also called Medigap) plans help cover the 20% of costs that Original Medicare doesn’t pay.

  • Since Medicare Supplement Plan F isn’t available to those who turn 65 after January 1, 2020, Plan G and Plan N are the most popular Medicare Supplement plans among new Medicare beneficiaries.

  • Medigap Plan N has a little less coverage than Plan G. As such, the premiums for Plan Ns are lower.

  • Plan pricing will be different based on several factors, including where you live, your age, and your smoking status. 

What are Medicare Supplement plans?

Medicare Supplement insurance (also commonly called Medigap) stacks 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.” 

Which Medicare Supplement plans are the most popular?

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.

Medicare Supplement Plan N vs. Plan G

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.

Plan N vs Plan G - Differences in Coverage

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:

BenefitPlan GPlan 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 deductibleXX
Part B excess chargeX
Foreign travel exchange (up to plan limits)80%80%
Out-of-pocket limitN/AN/A

What are Medicare Part B excess charges?

In Medicare land, there are two types of medical providers: those who accept Medicare assignment and those who don't. Those who accept Medicare assignment agree on the Medicare-approved cost for services. Those who don't accept Medicare assignment formally (also known as nonparticipating providers) may charge more for services than Medicare is willing to pay. In these situations, you may be responsible for the "excess charge" (the amount that's over the Medicare-approved amount), depending on your specific coverage.

Medicare Supplement Plan G protects you from these excess charges. One other thing to note is that the following states prohibit or limit these charges:

Plan N vs Plan G - Differences in Cost

Medigap Plan N premiums are lower than those for Plan G. Exact plans and pricing vary based on a number of factors:

  • Where you live

  • Your smoking status

  • Your age 

  • Your gender

  • The insurance carrier

  • Household discounts (offered by some Medigap plans)

Examples for a 65 year-old individual who doesn’t use Tobacco

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.

Choosing between Plan N and Plan G

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. 

Our licensed Medicare Advisors provide free advice and support! Schedule a free consultation or call us at (855) 900-2427 to get your questions answered and feel confident in your Medicare decisions.

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.

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