Learn about Medicare Supplement

Medicare supplement plans, also known as Medigap, are sold by private insurers, like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, as an addition to Original Medicare. These plans help pay some or all of the costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, like deductibles, copays and coinsurance.

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How do I enroll in a Medicare supplement plan?

The best time to purchase a Medicare supplement plan is during your open enrollment period. This period lasts for six months and begins on the first day of the month in which you are both 65 or older and enrolled in Original Medicare Part B.

No, there are no penalties for enrolling late. Keep in mind though that private insurance providers may refuse to sell you a Medicare supplement plan outside of your initial enrollment period and special enrollment period.

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What does a Medicare supplement plan cover?

While it may vary from plan to plan, a common rule of thumb is that Original Medicare covers 80% of your costs and your Medicare supplement plan helps pay for the remaining 20%. Keep in mind that a Medicare supplement plan won’t work with Medicare Advantage plans, only Original Medicare. 

What's included with Medicare supplement

Here's a high-level overview of the coverage that's included in most Medicare supplement plans.

  • Hospital care
  • Medical care
  • Coverage while traveling domestically

What may be included

  • Routine dental care
  • Routine vision care

Benefits not included

Long-term nursing care, hearing aids and prescription coverage.

No, you're not limited to a specific network with Medicare supplement plans like you are with a Medicare Advantage plan.

Because your Medicare supplement plan works in conjunction with your Original Medicare coverage, you can see any doctor who accepts Original Medicare.

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How much will a Medicare Supplement plan cost?

You’ll have to pay a monthly premium for your Medicare supplement plan and may also have to pay out-of-pocket costs like a deductible. The amount of your premium and out-of-pocket costs will vary depending on the plan you choose.

These terms all describe money you pay toward health care when you have a health insurance plan.

Copay and coinsurance

A copay is a fixed amount of money you pay for a certain service. Your health insurance plan pays the rest of the cost.

Coinsurance refers to percentages.

Our Medicare Advantage plans use copays for most services. You pay 20% coinsurance for most services with Original Medicare. 


A deductible is the amount of money you pay for care before your plan starts paying. For most services, you'll pay the full cost until you reach the deductible. After you reach your deductible, you’ll still have to pay any copays or coinsurance.

Most Medicare Advantage plans have separate medical and pharmacy deductibles. Original Medicare has its own deductibles, but if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you don't have to worry about them. We pay the Original Medicare deductibles for you.

How they all work together

When you have a Blue Cross plan, we track all the costs you pay – deductible, copays and coinsurance. When you reach a certain amount, we pay for most covered services. This is called the out-of-pocket maximum.

Original Medicare doesn’t have an out-of-pocket maximum. There's no cap on what you pay out of pocket. And if you're in the hospital or a skilled nursing facility, Original Medicare only pays for a certain number of days. After that point, you pay the full amount each day.

Ready to enroll?

Discover your Medicare options with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network.

Important information about Medicare supplement plans

This is a solicitation of insurance. We may contact you about buying insurance. Blue Cross Medicare Supplement plans aren't connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program.

Need help choosing a Medicare plan?

Our experienced advisors and agents can help find the right Blue Cross plan for you.