According to the CDC, 34.2 million Americans have diabetes, and unfortunately, the cost of the illness is high. Medical expenditures for people with diabetes are upwards of $9,600 per year. The same study concluded that people with diabetes have medical costs 2.3 times higher than those who don’t. Diabetes can cause blood circulation problems over time that elevate risk levels for other diseases. It also increases the risk of cardiovascular issues and stroke.
Good health care can help those with diabetes manage the disease and prevent complications. Medicare Parts A, B, and D cover basic treatment such as anti-diabetic drugs; however, because diabetes is such a complex disease, the plans may not cover everything. Fortunately, supplemental medicare, or Medigap, plans can help fill in the gaps.
Best Medigap Plans: If you’re interested in a broader view of Medigap, take a look at my list of this year’s best Medicare supplemental insurance providers.
How Medicare Covers Diabetes Treatments
People with diabetes will need anti-diabetic drugs to manage blood sugar and equipment to monitor their blood sugar. Adults will also need to see the doctor regularly to manage their condition and may need extra treatment if they have diabetic peripheral neuropathy in their feet.
Medicare Part B and D cover blood glucose testing, medical and educational services, and diabetes medication. Often, the patient covers a 20 percent coinsurance for doctor’s visits or medication. Copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles for treatment can mount up. Additionally, Medicare Part B does not cover insulin and the supplies necessary to administer it (unless used with an insulin pump). Medicare Part B covers up to a certain amount of insulin test strips and lancets every few months. It also covers some preventative care like screenings for heart disease, glaucoma tests, and nutritional counseling.
These gap plans are especially beneficial, as people with diabetes pay 30 percent higher out-of-pocket costs for care and between 64 and 83 percent for prescriptions. By purchasing medicare supplemental insurance, you’ll have greater peace of mind when it comes to managing your out-of-pocket expenses.
Which Medigap Plans Are Ideal for Diabetes?
Medicare Part B covers most diabetes medication and treatment, so if you’re looking for supplemental insurance, you should choose a plan that covers the deductible, coinsurance, and copayment for Part B plans. For that reason, we recommend Medigap Plans C and F for diabetes coverage for anybody under the age of 65.
Pro Tip: Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Massachusetts have different Medigap plans than the rest of the country, so be sure to contact a provider directly if you live in one of these states.
For example, a client of mine had $2,000 per month in diabetes costs. Medicare covered $1,600, leaving $400 per month for him to pay. He ended up finding a Medigap plan that covered the balance, so he had no out-of-pocket costs for medication or visits.
How We Chose the Best Medigap for Diabetes
Since Medigap plans are federally regulated, a Plan C from one company will offer the same coverage as that of another company. With this in mind, we looked for the following when it came to choosing the best Medigap policies for diabetes:
- Affordable premiums: Those with diabetes already have their hands full when it comes to paying for health care. Because of this, we looked for providers that offered affordable monthly premiums, lessening your load.
- Diabetes-specific benefits: While the actual coverage of Medigap policies will be the same across providers, some insurers offer additional health and membership benefits that are particularly useful to those with diabetes.
- Simple management: Anyone who has ever navigated the world of U.S. health care knows how complicated it can be. Because of this, we looked for providers that simplified the process of obtaining and managing coverage. All of the providers on this list offered stellar customer service, demystifying what could otherwise be a difficult circumstance.
The Best Medicare Supplement Plans for Diabetes
What We Like Most:
- Choose from a wide range of plans
- AARP Medigap partner
- Plans A, B, C, F, G, K, L and N offered
- Plans vary by state
UnitedHealthcare is the largest health-care provider in the country, with more than 50 years of experience. They have a large network and offer transparent pricing and solid Medigap plans. Adults may sign up for UnitedHealthcare if they are 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. Pricing and plans will vary depending on where you live. Luckily, it’s easy to find a quote and apply for a plan online by entering your zip code, date of birth, and other information.
A 70-year-old nonsmoking woman would pay $155.52 for Plan C Medigap insurance in Phoenix, Arizona. For this same woman, a Medigap Plan F would cost $169.17 per month.
- Partnered with and endorsed by AARP
- Online integration and apps
- Offers in-home and virtual consultations
- Discounts offered, including household discounts
- Must be a member of AARP to enroll
What We Like Most:
- Five plans to choose from
- Additional benefits for plan members
- No network restrictions
- Keep your coverage even if you move
Aetna is one of the oldest and most reputable insurance companies in the country, and they provide a comprehensive range of Medigap plans. One thing I really like about Aetna is there are no network restrictions, so you can see any doctor you’d like. Additionally, coverage stays the same if you end up moving.
What’s more, with Aetna’s Diabetes Management Plus, policyholders can receive test strips delivered right to their homes. Additionally, users can track their glucometer readings directly from their proprietary smartphone app.
Depending on where you live, you can see quotes on their website. A 70-year-old nonsmoking woman in Phoenix would pay $151.36 for Plan F coverage, while a Plan C would cost $139.10. However, online pricing with Aetna is not available for every state, so you might want to call to get a quote as well.
- Range of plans available
- Extra perks for members
- No network restrictions
- Dental and prescription plans
- Cumbersome website
Anthem is a part of Blue Cross Blue Shield. One thing I love about Anthem is that some of their plans offer vision and dental, so it covers more gaps than just Medicare. They also have wellness-specific benefits like discounts on gym memberships. Unfortunately, Anthem is only available in certain states, and their range of plans is somewhat limited when compared to the other providers on this list.
Where Anthem really shines is with their smartphone app. Using this program, you can easily keep track of your policy, view your benefits, and manage your coverage overall. I was particularly impressed by the ease with which I was able to file claims right from my smartphone.
With Anthem, the average cost for a 70-year-old woman in Nevada for Plan F is $290.68 per month.
- Intuitive and helpful app
- Bundled discounts on insurance
- Health and wellness programs
- Nationwide coverage
- Not available in every state
What We Like Most:
- Large range of plans
- Coverage for people with preexisting conditions
- Foreign travel emergency coverage available
- Skilled nursing facility coinsurance available
Cigna started in the 1970s and now serves over 30 countries around the world. They offer a higher deductible plan for those looking for lower premiums, and they offer discounts if customers sign up online or if more than one person in a household enrolls in a plan. Cigna also offers diabetes-specific plans to save on diabetes supplies, equipment, and doctors’ appointments.
Additionally, while they’re technically not part of Cigna’s Medigap coverage, Cigna also offers Diabetes Care Plans,which is an innovative way to help people with diabetes stay on track of their health. These plans come with $0 in out-of-pocket costs for supplies like insulin pumps, blood glucose monitors, and infusion devices.
To find a Medigap plan from Cigna, you’ll want to start by looking at their website. Here, you’ll be able to view their range of plans and even obtain a free quote.
A 66-year-old woman in Texas would pay $150 per month for Medigap Plan F.
- 24/7 customer service line
- Household discounts
- Easy-to-understand policies
- Coverage in most states
- Relatively few plan options
Mutual of Omaha has been in business for over 100 years. You can choose any doctor or hospital you would like, and if you’re a globetrotter, your coverage follows you around the world. Mutual of Omaha also pays 98 percent of Medicare claims within 12 hours.
Since they’ve been offering Medicare supplemental insurance for over 50 years, this experience shows in their customer service. Give them a call to obtain a free quote on a Medigap policy, and you’ll see how polite and knowledgeable their staff is.
A 70-year-old woman in Arizona would pay $147 per month for Plan F coverage.
- Prescription-drug and dental options
- No network restrictions
- Dedicated helpline
- High-deductible options
- Available in only 12 states