What Is Medicare Select?

Medicare SELECT is a type of Medigap plan that requires you to use specific hospitals and sometimes doctors in the plan’s network to receive full benefits under the plan. The networks are meant to keep costs lower and because of this, Medicare Select premiums may be lower than other Medigap plans.

Terry Turner, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
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    Terry Turner

    Terry Turner

    Senior Financial Writer and Financial Wellness Facilitator

    Terry Turner has more than 35 years of journalism experience, including covering benefits, spending and congressional action on federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare. He is a Certified Financial Wellness Facilitator through the National Wellness Institute and the Foundation for Financial Wellness and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®).

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    Lee Williams
    Lee Williams, senior editor for RetireGuide.com

    Lee Williams

    Senior Financial Editor

    Lee Williams is a professional writer, editor and content strategist with 10 years of professional experience working for global and nationally recognized brands. He has contributed to Forbes, The Huffington Post, SUCCESS Magazine, AskMen.com, Electric Literature and The Wall Street Journal. His career also includes ghostwriting for Fortune 500 CEOs and published authors.

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    Kim Krebs-Murnane
    Kim Krebs-Murnane, Medicare expert & reviewer for RetireGuide

    Kim Krebs-Murnane

    Licensed Agent at Insuractive

    Kim Krebs-Murnane joined the Insuractive team as a licensed agent in 2018 and has stayed busy helping her clients meet their insurance needs ever since. She is currently licensed to sell insurance in over 40 states.

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  • Published: November 24, 2020
  • Updated: May 8, 2023
  • 4 min read time
  • This page features 4 Cited Research Articles
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APA Turner, T. (2023, May 8). What Is Medicare Select? RetireGuide.com. Retrieved May 31, 2023, from https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/supplement-insurance/medicare-select/

MLA Turner, Terry. "What Is Medicare Select?" RetireGuide.com, 8 May 2023, https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/supplement-insurance/medicare-select/.

Chicago Turner, Terry. "What Is Medicare Select?" RetireGuide.com. Last modified May 8, 2023. https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/supplement-insurance/medicare-select/.

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What Is a Medicare SELECT Plan?

Medicare SELECT is a special type of Medicare Supplement insurance, or Medigap, plan that is only available in certain states. Medicare SELECT policies can be any one of the regular, standardized Medigap plans.

Medicare SELECT Availability
To find out if Medicare SELECT is available in your area, contact your Medigap policy provider or use the Medigap plan finder online at Medicare.gov.
Source: U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Like other Medigap policies, Medicare SELECT plans are sold by private insurers that contract with the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the agency that administers Medicare across the United States.

How Does Medicare SELECT Work?

Medicare SELECT plans may cost less than other Medigap policies, but they typically require you to see certain doctors or use certain hospitals for non-emergency services.

If you see a doctor or go to a hospital outside your Medicare SELECT’s network, you will have to pay some or all of what Medicare does not pay. Medicare will still pay its share of approved expenses. But the Medicare SELECT plan is not required to cover all of your out-of-pocket expenses.

The restrictions usually don’t apply in the event of a medical emergency.

A Medicare SELECT policy also may require you to get a referral from your primary care doctor before you can see a specialist.

Medicare SELECT vs. Medigap

Medicare SELECT is a type of Medigap policy. Medigap is Medicare Supplement insurance that covers certain out-of-pocket expenses that Original Medicare — Medicare Part A and Part B — don’t cover.

These expenses include copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, emergency expenses when traveling, hospice care and doctor bills beyond the amounts Medicare agrees to pay.

The main difference between regular Medigap and Medicare SELECT is that you have to use the network of doctors and hospitals in your Medicare SELECT plan before it pays full benefits. Regular Medigap policies will pay so long as you go to doctors and hospitals that accept Medicare.

Diagram comparing Medicare SELECT & Medigap

You cannot have a Medicare Advantage plan if you have a Medicare SELECT policy or any other Medigap plan.

How to Get a Medicare SELECT Plan

You can only enroll in a Medicare SELECT policy if the plans are offered in your state.

Before enrolling in a Medicare SELECT plan, you first have to enroll in Medicare Part B. You will then have to contact a private insurer that sells Medicare SELECT policies.

The best time to enroll in Medicare SELECT is during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period that begins with the month you are 65 or older and enrolled in Part B. During this period, you can’t be denied coverage or charged extra because of your health conditions. If you miss this window, you can enroll at any other time of the year, but you will have to go through medical underwriting.

Considerations Before Buying a Medicare SELECT Policy
  • Are the savings on premiums worth the potential costs if you have to go out of network for health care?
  • Are your doctors, hospitals and other providers in the policy’s network?
  • Are you willing to give up additional benefits that may come with a regular Medigap policy?
  • How important is it to you to choose specialists you may need to see?
  • How often do you travel outside the Medicare SELECT policy’s coverage area?

If you buy a Medicare SELECT policy, you have the right to switch to a standard Medigap policy within 12 months if you change your mind.

You cannot have a Medicare Advantage plan if you have a Medicare SELECT policy or any other Medigap plan.

What to Know About Medicare SELECT Policies Before You Move

If you have a Medicare SELECT policy and move to another area without Medicare Select, you will need to change policies.

How to Replace Medicare SELECT if You Move Out of Area
  • Buy a standardized Medigap policy from your current Medigap insurer. It can offer the same or fewer benefits, but not more benefits as your Medigap SELECT plan.
  • Exercise your guaranteed issue rights to buy certain standardized plans — Plans A, B, C, F, K or L — from any insurance company that’s offered in the state you moved to.

Your guaranteed issue rights — also called “Medigap protections” — are protected rights you have requiring insurance companies to offer you certain Medigap policies in certain situations. They usually take effect when you lose health coverage or your health care coverage changes in some other way.

Last Modified: May 8, 2023

4 Cited Research Articles

  1. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022, March). Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20230314223405/https://www.medicare.gov/sites/default/files/2022-03/02110-medigap-guide-health-insurance.pdf
  2. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Medigap Costs. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-other-insurance/whats-medicare-supplement-insurance-medigap/medigap-costs
  3. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). When Can I Buy Medigap? Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-other-insurance/when-can-i-buy-medigap
  4. New York State Department of Financial Services. (n.d.). What Is Medicare Select? Retrieved from https://www.dfs.ny.gov/faqs/consumer-health/what-medicare-select