Medicare Supplement Plan B

Medicare Supplement Plan B is a basic Medigap policy that helps with the out-of-pocket expenses that Original Medicare does not cover. Medicare Supplement Plan B covers everything Medicare Supplement Plan A covers as well as your Medicare Part A hospital insurance deductible.

What Is Medicare Supplement Plan B?

Medicare Supplement Plan B — also known as Medigap Plan B — is one of the eight Medigap plans available in most states. Medigap policies are sold by private insurers to supplement Original Medicare coverage. Original Medicare includes Medicare Part A and Part B.

You shouldn’t confuse Medicare Supplement Plan B with Medicare Part B medical insurance. These are very different things that are designed to work together. Medigap Plan B can help people pay the out-of-pocket costs that Original Medicare does not cover.

Medicare Part B vs. Medigap Plan B
Medicare Part B
Medicare Part B medical insurance is a federal health insurance plan that covers doctor visits and other medical services, items and tests. You must sign up for it and pay a separate, monthly premium. You are also typically responsible for a coinsurance payment of 20 percent of the Medicare-approved cost for medical services and items Medicare Part B covers. You may also have to pay a copayment for certain services.
Medigap (Medicare Supplement) Plan B
Medigap Plan B policies are sold by private insurers. You purchase a Plan B policy to help cover out-of-pocket costs from Original Medicare, such as coinsurance and copayments. Medigap Plan B covers some of these costs along with your Medicare Part A hospital insurance deductible — $1,484 per benefit period in 2021.

None of the eight Medigap policies currently available to new Medicare enrollees cover the Medicare Part B deductible, which in 2021 is $203.

What Types of Services Are Covered by Medigap Plan B?

Medicare Supplement Plan B offers basic coverage for out-of-pocket costs that Original Medicare does not cover.

Out-of-Pocket Costs that Medicare Supplement Plan B Covers
  • Medicare Part A coinsurance and costs for 365 days after your Medicare benefits are exhausted
  • Medicare Part A deductible
  • Medicare Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment
  • Medicare Part B coinsurance (typically 20 percent of Medicare approved cost of services, items or tests)
  • Medicare Part B copayment (a fixed dollar amount usually set by a health care provider)
  • The first three pints of blood necessary for a medical procedure each calendar year

Medigap Plan B covers coinsurance only after you’ve paid your Medicare Part B deductible. Because Medigap Plan B policies cover the Part A deductible, your coinsurance for Part A services will also be covered.

There are other out-of-pocket costs that Medigap Plan B will not cover.

Out-of-Pocket Costs that Medicare Supplement Plan B Does Not Cover
  • Skilled nursing facility care coinsurance
  • Medicare Part B medical insurance deductible
  • Medicare Part B excess charge — the amount a doctor or other health care provider can legally charge you above the Medicare-approved cost
  • Foreign travel exchange (up to your Plan B policy’s limits) — medical expenses while traveling outside the United States
Source: U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Other Medigap plans cover out-of-pocket costs that Plan B does not. It is important to compare Medigap plans to find the one that best fits your health care needs and financial priorities.

There are some health care items that neither Original Medicare nor Medigap covers. These include hearing, vision and dental services.

If these are services for which you may need coverage, you may want to consider a Medicare Advantage plan. These are private policies that replace Original Medicare and provide benefits including and beyond those offered under Medicare Part A and Part B.

If you are a new enrollee to Medicare, Medigap policies will not cover prescription drug costs. But you can purchase a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to help with your medication costs.

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How Much Does Medigap Plan B Cost?

The cost of a Medicare Supplement Plan B policy varies depending on the company you buy it from and where you live.

Policies may be more expensive in some states than in others. Even within a state, the cost can vary depending on the part of the state where you live.

Medigap Availability
Companies that sell Medigap plans are not required to sell all available Medigap plans. You may need to shop around for the plan you are interested in. Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin also have their own standardized Medigap plans, which differ from those available in other states.
Source: U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Your age, gender and health status can affect the cost of your Medigap Plan B policy. But if you enroll during the Medigap Open Enrollment Period — the first six months after you turn 65 — and live in the plan’s service area, an insurer cannot reject you for pre-existing health conditions or disabilities.

Insurers that sell Medigap Plan B policies may offer discounts for non-smokers, women or married couples. You may also be able to save on premium costs if you agree to a yearly payment, have multiple policies in your household or use electronic money transfers to pay your premiums.

Last Modified: July 12, 2021

5 Cited Research Articles

  1. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services. (2020). Medicare & You 2021. Download. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/10050-Medicare-and-You_0.pdf
  2. Bunis, D. (2020, July 6). Medigap Plans Help Bridge Gap of Original Medicare Costs. Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-2017/choosing-right-medigap-plan.html
  3. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services. (2020, February). Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People With Medicare. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/02110-medicare-medigap-guide.pdf
  4. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services. (n.d.). How to Compare Medigap Policies. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-other-insurance/how-to-compare-medigap-policies
  5. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services. (n.d.). What’s Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)? Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-other-insurance/whats-medicare-supplement-insurance-medigap