Find the most affordable Medicare plan for you using resources from Medicare and in your area, whether it is a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare Supplement plan to help with Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) costs. Your health care expenses, including premiums and other out-of-pocket costs, can vary depending on which type of Medicare plan you choose and how much you need to access your healthcare benefits. Plan ahead and engage with your health.

What You Should Know About How to Find an Affordable Medicare Plan

  • Out-of-pocket costs: Understand your potential out-of-pocket costs and anticipate how much you think you may need to access your healthcare benefits to determine which plan and Medicare coverage is best for you.
  • Compare plans: Compare and find Medicare plans and Medicare supplement plans that are available in your area. Access your online resources and local experts to help you find the most affordable plans.
  • Consider Medigap: Compare Medigap (a Medicare supplement plan) policies in your state by shopping around. Plans are standardized, but premiums vary among insurance companies.

How Do You Choose an Affordable Medicare Plan?

The first step is to understand the two main Medicare options, followed by if you need Medicare supplement insurance.

You can choose Original Medicare or go with a Medicare Advantage Plan:

Original Medicare Medicare Advantage Plans
  • Original Medicare, which includes Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance)
  • Original Medicare with supplemental coverage (Medigap)
  • Original Medicare with prescription drug coverage (Part D)
  • Medicare Advantage Plans, which typically bundle Parts A, B, and D together

There are plenty of resources to help you search for a Medicare plan available in your zip code. You can visit to research your options and find the right Medicare coverage, and you can visit with a licensed Medicare insurance agent or your local Area Agency on Aging. You should review your Medicare insurance plan each year to make sure you have the best, most affordable plan for you.

Consider the fixed and variable out-of-pocket expenses you will be responsible for paying, depending on which Medicare plan you choose.

Health care can be expensive. Affordable care should give you the best bang for your buck and ensure the services you need are available to you when you need them without breaking the bank. You could view an affordable Medicare health plan as an intersection of quality care and the lowest possible cost.

What to Consider When You Choose a Medicare Plan

  • Premiums. A payment you make to Medicare or your health care or Medicare drug coverage plan. Just like any other type of insurance, you pay periodic premiums to maintain your coverage, whether you access your benefits or not. This is a fixed cost.
    • Original Medicare Part A – Most people do not have to pay a premium for Part A because they have worked and paid Medicare taxes. If you do not qualify for premium-free, you can purchase Part A. Click here to see your costs.
    • You will have to pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part B, whether you have Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan. For most people, that is $164.90 in 2023. If your annual income is higher than a set amount, you will pay more.
    • Medigap (Medicare supplement insurance plans) – Your monthly premium can range from around a hundred dollars to several hundred dollars, depending on which plan and insurance carrier you choose.
    • Part D (Medicare prescription drug coverage ) – If you purchase prescription drug plan coverage, you will pay a monthly premium. The national weighted average premium in 2021 was $38 per month, but costs vary by plan. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan with drug coverage, you may pay a drug plan premium.
    • Medicare Advantage Plan – Most Medicare beneficiaries have access to a zero-premium plan in their zip code.
  • Deductibles. The amount you must pay for services or medications before your insurance begins to pay. This is a variable cost, depending on whether or not you access your benefits.
    • Original Medicare Part A – You pay a deductible ($1,600 in 2023 for each benefit period). It is hard to predict whether or not you will need hospitalization, but if your health history includes frequent hospitalizations, you should consider this expense.
    • Medicare Part B deductible is $226 in 2023 and typically goes up every year.
    • Medigap deductible. This is only applicable if you purchase a high-deductible plan.
    • Part D plan – deductibles vary
    • Medicare Advantage Plan – deductibles vary
  • Copays/coinsurance. A copay is an amount you pay as your share of the cost for a service, such as visits to healthcare providers or prescription drugs. It is usually a set amount of dollars. Coinsurance is a percentage, for example, 20%, that you pay as your share of the cost for a service after you pay deductibles. This is a variable cost, depending on whether or not you access your benefits.
    • Part B – 20% is the usual coinsurance amount for Medicare-covered services and supplies.
    • Part D – Copays vary, depending on which prescription drugs you need. Generic prescription drugs are cheaper than brand-name drugs.
    • Medicare Advantage Plan – Copays for visits to primary physicians are typically minimal and slightly higher for specialists. Coinsurance may apply for some procedures and treatments. If you access extra benefits, you may pay a copay, coinsurance, or have an allowance of a certain amount, such as $200 toward a pair of eyeglasses.
  • Maximum out-of-pocket costs. Medicare Advantage plans come with an out-of-pocket maximum dollar amount that is the most you may have to pay for your Medicare coverage in a year. Costs for healthcare services or supplies that are not covered or partially covered, such as dental, vision, and hearing benefits, do not count toward your maximum out-of-pocket amount. For those with Original Medicare health plans without a Medigap policy to cover out-of-pocket costs, there is no cap on how much you will have to pay.

You can compare these out-of-pocket costs as you research which federal Medicare program is best for you. It is important to remember that any one of these costs, such as the monthly premium, doesn’t stand alone. Suppose you anticipate that you will access your benefits frequently. In that case, you may choose to purchase a Medigap plan (also called a Medicare supplement) to cover most of your out-of-pocket expenses beyond what an Original Medicare plan covers. If you anticipate that you don’t have major health care needs, you may view a zero-premium Medicare Advantage Plan as the most affordable for you.

You also should explore whether or not you qualify for financial assistance to help with the cost of Medicare health plans. Click here for more information.

What is The Best Way to Keep Medicare Costs Low?

There are several ways to keep your Medicare costs as low as possible:

  • If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, stay in-network and follow the plan’s rules for receiving services, such as obtaining prior authorizations and referrals.
  • Ask for generic versions of your prescribed drugs.
  • Avoid late enrollment penalties. Sign up for Medicare (if you are not automatically enrolled) during your initial enrollment period. Make sure you have creditable coverage for medical and drug expenses, or sign up for Part B, and purchase Part D or join a Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage. There are also open enrollment periods if you wish to make changes later on.
  • If you have Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), use providers and suppliers accept Medicare assignments so that you won’t be billed for more than the Medicare deductible and coinsurance.
  • Make full use of your preventive care benefits.
  • Be prepared when you see your healthcare providers or physicians to make the most of your encounter.
  • Utilize telehealth services when you can.
  • Engage in health-promoting activities.
  • Review your health plan choices each year. Licensed insurance agents or your local Area Agency on Aging can be helpful.
  • If you choose a Medigap plan, ask what discounts may be available to you.
  • Check to see if you qualify for financial assistance.
  • Check into drug discount programs. You may be able to get prescription drugs for less than your insurance copay.
  • Don’t be overinsured. For instance, if you qualify for Medicaid, you will not need a Medigap policy to help with Original Medicare out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Keep good records in case you need to appeal a claim.

How Do You Find an Affordable Medicare Supplement Plan?

The best source for an affordable Medicare Supplement plan (Medigap) is Follow the prompts to view and compare the benefits of each plan that is available to you. You can also call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), your State Insurance Department, or a plan’s insurance company.

Medigap plans are standardized across all states, but premiums vary depending on:

  • The insurance carrier
  • Your age
  • Your gender
  • Where you live

There are different types of plans, and not all insurance carriers are licensed to offer plans in all states.

Some states have the option for you to buy another type of Medigap plan called Medicare SELECT that requires you to receive services that are in-network to receive full benefits. If you buy one of these policies, you have the right to change your mind within 12 months and switch to one of the standard Medigap policies.

If you live in Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, Medigap plans are standardized in a different way. See more details here.

An affordable Medicare Supplement plan will help cover the out-of-pocket costs you incur when you access Part A and Part B benefits, including deductibles, copays, and coinsurance amounts. An affordable plan will also have the lowest premium possible for the benefits you anticipate you will need.

Refer to this chart on the website to view the standardized plans and their benefits. When you compare insurance plans, make sure you do a side-by-side comparison of each insurance company for the same plan letter/type. For instance, Plan G with all carriers, or Plan N with all carriers, so you are comparing apples to apples. Premiums vary, but the benefits of each plan are standardized.

Medigap policies can be priced in three different ways:

  • Community-rated (also known as “no age-related”) policies charge the same monthly premium to everyone, regardless of age. Premiums may go up because of inflation or other factors, but not because of your age.
  • Issue-age-rated (also known as “entry age-rated”) policies charge premiums based on how old you are when you purchase a policy. The younger you are, the lower the premium, and they won’t go up as you age. They may rise due to inflation or other factors.
  • Attained-age-rated policies base your premium on your current age and continue to rise as you get older.

Another tip for finding an affordable policy is to inquire about discounts that may be available to you. Some insurance companies offer discounts for women, non-smokers, or married persons, or if you pay your premium yearly instead of monthly, or pay by electronic fund transfer.

Insurance and health care consultant

Tammy Burns is an experienced health insurance advisor. She earned her nursing degree in 1990 from Jacksonville State University, obtained her insurance billing and coding certification in 1995, and holds a health and life insurance license in Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Burns is Affordable Care Act (ACA)-certified for health insurance and other ancillary, life, and annuity products. She maintains an active nursing license and practices private-duty nursing.

Burns’ background as a nurse, insurance biller and coder, and insurance consultant includes infectious disease, oncology, gynecology, phlebotomy, post operative, family medicine, geriatrics, home health, hospice, human resources, management, billing, coding, claims, fixed annuities, group and individual health and life products, and Medicare. She’s always been driven by a desire to help people, spending more than 25 years as a practicing nurse in hospitals, private doctors’ offices, home health, and hospice. As a nurse, Burns supported patients filing insurance claims with Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies as well as responding to billing questions from confused patients.

Seeing firsthand how unsuspecting patients are frequently confused by an overly complex system they don’t understand led Burns to become an insurance agent and health care consultant, now helping people understand the medical system. Since becoming a licensed insurance agent in 2013, she has worked with some of the largest and most reputable insurance carriers and agencies in the nation, and she has built a large and loyal clientele by way of her commitment to transparency and personalized service.