Medicare Supplement plans provide valuable added coverage for people on Original Medicare. In some states, Medicare beneficiaries have Medicare Select plans as an additional coverage option. These plans use network restrictions to provide beneficiaries with often cheaper premiums. 

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Medicare Select plans, including whether or not they’re worth getting. 

Key takeaways:

  • Medicare Select is a type of Medicare Supplement policy that operates with provider networks in order to reduce monthly premiums. 

  • Medicare Select plans cover the same things as Medicare Supplement plans, but you’ll have to cover the costs of services received from out-of-network hospitals and providers.

  • If you want a Medicare Supplement plan in order to keep your healthcare provider options open, then a Medicare Select plan isn’t a good fit for you.

  • Medicare Select policies are generally not worth it because they restrict your freedom to see any provider.

Understanding Medicare Supplement plans

Before we get into Medicare Select policies, it’ll be helpful to understand Medicare Supplement (also called Medigap) plans. When you have Original Medicare, Medicare only pays for about 80% of the costs of services you need. That means you’re left paying for the remaining 20%. A Medicare Supplement plan is additional insurance that helps cover these remaining costs, so you don’t end up with catastrophic healthcare expenses. 

There are ten different standardized Medigap plans that you can choose from, and they’re all labeled with letters A through N (Medigap Plan A, Medigap Plan B, etc). The main difference between these plans is the level of coverage you receive. Take a look at the chart below to familiarize yourself with the different Medicare Supplement plans.

Medicare Supplement vs. Medicare Select 

Because Medicare Supplement plans are standardized by the federal government, there are no network restrictions. As long as they take Medicare, and most providers do, your services will be covered by a Medigap plan. This is the primary difference between Medicare Supplement and Medicare Select. Medicare Supplement plans allow you to visit almost any provider while Medicare Select plans restrict you to a network of providers. 

Another important thing to note about Medicare Select plans is that you may be restricted to a local network. If you travel domestically or split time between states, you may have more expensive healthcare costs from providers outside your local network. 

What is Medicare Select?

Medicare Select is a type of Medigap policy that operates with a network of providers. Most insurance carriers apply this restriction to your hospital coverage, but it can extend to doctors as well, depending on the policy.

In order to receive coverage for services, you must visit a hospital or provider that accepts your Medicare Select insurance plan. In exchange for this provider limitation, Medicare Select premiums can be lower than what they would be for standard Medigap policies. 

Medicare Select policies are required to cover the same benefits as the standard Medicare Supplement plan. For example, if you go with a UnitedHealthcare Select Plan G for your Medigap insurance, you’ll receive all Plan G benefits. The only difference is that you’ll need to go to a hospital that’s in your plan’s network.

In some cases, you may be covered for an out-of-network provider if there’s an emergency situation, but details can vary by Medicare Select policy. In most situations, you’ll have to pay the partial or full cost for medical services if you go out of network. Keep in mind that Medicare Select is only offered in areas that are served by the policy's network healthcare facilities and providers. 

Are Medicare Select plans worth it?

We generally don't recommend Medicare Select plans over the standard Medicare Supplement plans. One of the biggest advantages of Medicare Supplement plans is that you can see any provider you want. Medicare Select plans take away this freedom and could lead to expensive bills that you have to cover on your own. The lower premiums may not be worth the extra hassle. 

Here are our main tips to check if a Medicare Select plan is right for you:

  • Compare the standard Medicare Supplement plan cost with the Medicare Select cost. If you can save a significant amount of money, you may consider Medicare Select.

  • Check if your main hospitals and providers are covered by your insurance carrier’s network. If they’re covered and you don’t believe you’ll need coverage outside of these providers and facilities, you could consider Medicare Select.

In general, it may make more sense to enroll in standard Medicare Supplement plans, especially if you think about your long-term Medicare journey. You may end up having to switch from Medicare Select if it’s no longer convenient. Enrolling in a regular Medigap plan can save you from this future process. 

Can you switch out of a Medicare Select plan?

Yes, you can switch out of a Medicare Select plan. If you change your mind, you can switch to a standard Medigap policy within 12 months of enrolling in a Medicare Select plan.

The best Medicare plans for you

Everyone’s situation and experiences are different. Talking to a knowledgeable Medicare agent can help you understand what you need. Learn about your Medicare options with tailored advice by calling us at 855-900-2427 or booking a time to chat.

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