Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Supplement Insurance 2022 Review

The 34 Blue Cross Blue Shield companies offer a variety of Medigap plans and added benefits, depending on your location.
Mar 22, 2022

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Blue Cross Blue Shield is a collective of 34 companies. Together, BCBS companies make up about 42% of the U.S. health insurance market

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BCBS companies offer Medicare Supplement Insurance, or Medigap, in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Some companies, such as Anthem, offer policies in many states, while other BCBS companies have smaller service areas.

BCBS companies are licensed by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, but they function independently. You can find the company that serves your location on the BCBS website.

Here’s what you should know about Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Supplement Insurance.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Supplement Insurance pros and cons

Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Medigap offerings have advantages and disadvantages.

Pros

Cons

  • Every plan type is available. In some locations, BCBS companies offer all 10 Medigap plan types to qualifying applicants.

  • Customers are satisfied. BCBS tied for the top score on the American Customer Satisfaction Index for health insurers.

  • Plans are offered everywhere. BCBS companies offer Medigap policies in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

  • BCBS companies vary. Prices, plan types, extras and member experiences can vary depending on your local BCBS company.

  • Some plan types are pricey. Both Plan A and Plan N were at least 50% more expensive than the market’s best prices in quotes obtained for this review.

  • Best-priced plans have network restrictions. Medicare Select plans are cheaper than standard versions, but you have to stay in-network.

Available Medicare Supplement Insurance plans

Blue Cross Blue Shield offers every Medigap plan type in at least some locations. There are as many as eight Medicare Supplement Insurance plans available for purchase by any Medicare member:

  • Medigap Plan A — the basic benefits included in every Medigap plan without any extras.

  • Medigap Plan B — basic benefits plus coverage for the Medicare Part A deductible.

  • Medigap Plan D — a mid-cost option that covers most Medigap benefits.

  • Medigap Plan G — the highest-coverage option available to new Medicare members. Available as either a standard plan or a high-deductible option in some locations.

  • Medigap Plan K — the lowest-cost Medigap plan, with 50% coverage for most benefits.

  • Medigap Plan L — a low-cost option with 75% coverage for most benefits.

  • Medigap Plan M — coverage for most benefits, but only half of the Part A deductible.

  • Medigap Plan N — a plan with lower premiums but higher copays.

Blue Cross Blue Shield also offers Medigap Plan C, Medigap Plan F and the high-deductible version of Plan F in certain locations for qualifying beneficiaries who were eligible to enroll in Medicare prior to 2020. Newer Medicare members can’t buy these plans from any insurer.

In addition, Blue Cross Blue Shield offers plans in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin according to each state's Medigap plan standards, which differ from the standardization system used in the majority of the country.

Blue Cross Blue Shield’s plan offerings vary by state. In some states, multiple BCBS companies can offer different selections of plans. Enter your ZIP code on Blue Cross Blue Shield’s website to check out the BCBS company and plan offerings available in your location.

Medicare Select policies add network requirements

In some locations, Blue Cross Blue Shield companies offer Medicare Select versions of policies in addition to the standard version. A Medicare Select policy covers the same benefits as the standard type, but it requires beneficiaries to get nonemergency services from in-network providers.

In exchange for the network restrictions, Medicare Select plans offer lower premiums than their non-Select counterparts.

If you have a Medicare Select policy and get services from an out-of-network provider, you’re not fully covered. You become responsible for some of the costs that the plan would cover if you had stayed in network. Review the materials for a Medicare Select policy you’re considering to learn about the network limitations and in-network facility list for the policy.

Add-on coverage for dental and vision

Some plans allow you to purchase additional coverage with cost sharing for services not included in standard Medigap policies. For example, some Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield plans offer Anthem Extras packages, which can cover some costs for dental cleanings, dental procedures and eye exams, plus an allowance for glasses frames or contact lenses.

These add-ons require premiums in addition to the cost of the Medigap policy. For example, Anthem Extras packages in Ohio cost between $22 and $45 per month depending on the coverage level.

Additional benefits

Medigap plans have standardized Medicare benefits, but insurers can offer additional perks. Here are examples of extras included with some Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Supplement Insurance policies:

  • Blue to Blue: Some plans allow qualifying members to switch between Medigap plan types at certain times during the year without underwriting, so there’s no extra cost or chance of denial due to your health status or medical history.

  • Fitness: Some plans offer SilverSneakers or similar fitness programs that can include gym memberships, fitness classes, training sessions and tracking apps.

  • Discount programs: Some plans offer access to programs that provide discounts on, for example, prescriptions, over-the-counter health and wellness products, vision services, eyewear, hearing services or hearing aids.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Supplement Insurance service area

Blue Cross Blue Shield companies offer Medicare Supplement Insurance policies in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

In total, BCBS companies cover about 3.6 million Medigap beneficiaries, and their combined share of the total Medicare Supplement Insurance market is about 27%

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Cost

The following price quotes were obtained for three states representing above-average, average and below-average costs for Medicare Supplement Insurance, when compared across all plans and providers using pricing data from Medicare.gov

:

  • Colorado: More expensive than average.

  • North Carolina: Average cost for the U.S.

  • Ohio: Less expensive than average.

The sections below show pricing information from Blue Cross Blue Shield for a 65-year-old female nonsmoker and reflect “base” pricing with discounts removed or factored out whenever the option was available. (Note: Some Medigap prices may be higher for males.)

For comparison, each table also includes the price for the least-expensive option to buy the same plan from other providers, based on information from Medicare.gov. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s price for Medigap Plan A in Sandusky, Ohio, appears alongside the lowest price on Medicare.gov for all Plan A policies available in Sandusky to an applicant with identical demographics.

Plan A

On average, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s quoted prices for Medigap Plan A were about 60% higher than the least-expensive Plan A policy in the area.

BCBS-quoted price

Medicare.gov lowest price

Fort Collins, Colorado

$103.29.

$70.

Greensboro, North Carolina

$111.50.

$81.

Sandusky, Ohio

$134.56.

$69.

Plan G

On average, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s quoted prices for standard (non-Select) Medigap Plan G were about 24% higher than the least-expensive Plan G policy in the area.

BCBS-quoted price

Medicare.gov lowest price

Fort Collins, Colorado

$117.47.

$97.

Greensboro, North Carolina

$99.75.

$87.

Sandusky, Ohio

$126.68.

$92.

Opting for a Medicare Select version of Plan G in Ohio offered a savings of $14.29. (A Medicare Select version of Plan G wasn't available through BCBS in Fort Collins or Greensboro at the time quotes were obtained for this review.)

Plan N

On average, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s quoted prices for standard (non-Select) Medigap Plan N were about 54% higher than the least-expensive Plan N policy in the area.

BCBS-quoted price

Medicare.gov lowest price

Fort Collins, Colorado

$107.

$70.

Greensboro, North Carolina

$89.50.

$68.

Sandusky, Ohio

$129.08.

$73.

Opting for a Medicare Select version of Plan N in Ohio offered a savings of $21.81. (A Medicare Select version of Plan N wasn't available through BCBS in Fort Collins or Greensboro at the time quotes were obtained for this review.)

Discounts

Here are a few examples of discounts Blue Cross Blue Shield offers to qualifying Medicare Supplement Insurance applicants:

  • Automatic payments: Some plans offer discounts on premiums if you set up automatic payments from your bank account.

  • Prepayment: Some plans offer discounts on premiums if you pay for a full year in advance.

  • Household: Some plans offer discounts if a spouse or household member is also enrolled in a Medigap policy from the same insurer.

Available discounts can vary according to factors such as your location, household status and how you apply for a policy.

Blue Cross Blue Shield’s spending on care

72.6% for member benefits

Medicare Supplement Insurance providers must report data on the premiums they collect and how much they spend to provide benefits for members.

Based on the most recent year of data, Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Supplement Insurance plans spend about 72.6% of premiums on member benefits

. (The other 27.4% goes to overhead expenses like administrative costs, marketing, salaries and commissions.)

For comparison, the average for all providers is 72.3%. The minimum required by law for individual Medigap policies is 60%

.

Member complaints

0.4% below average

Members file complaints about Medicare Supplement Insurance policies from Blue Cross Blue Shield companies at rates about 0.4% below the market average for all Medigap plans. This is according to three years’ worth of data (2019-2021) from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for Blue Cross Blue Shield companies and their subsidiaries that sell Medigap policies

.

Other insurance offerings from those Blue Cross Blue Shield companies and subsidiaries have better complaint rates, with a complaint rate for all policy types about 34% below the average for all insurers over the same three years of data.

Customer service

Here’s how Blue Cross Blue Shield Medigap members can contact customer service:

  • Call the toll-free number on your Blue Cross Blue Shield member ID card.

  • Find your BCBS company online for direct contact information.

  • Call 888-630-2583 to be connected to your local BCBS company.

Third-party ratings

There are a few companies that weigh in on customers’ experiences with insurers or the strength of the company in question, and we’ve included two here:

American Customer Satisfaction Index: 75 out of 100

The American Customer Satisfaction Index, or ACSI, rates consumer satisfaction with products and services based on a scientific model developed at the University of Michigan. Ratings are derived from surveys that measure consumers’ expectations and perceived quality and value of products and services.

In 2021, Blue Cross Blue Shield scored 75 out of 100 on the ACSI health insurance satisfaction benchmark

. ACSI measures satisfaction with the health insurance industry as a whole — the benchmark isn’t specific to Medicare Supplement Insurance. For comparison, the highest score was 75 and the health insurance industry average was 73.

AM Best Financial Strength Rating: A+ to B++

AM Best is a credit rating agency that specializes in the insurance industry. Because Blue Cross Blue Shield is a collection of companies, AM Best has rated some — but not all — Blue Cross firms.

As of March 11, AM Best affirmed the following ratings for Blue Cross Blue Shield companies

:

AM Best BCBS ratings

Company

Financial Strength Rating

Anthem Health Group

A (Excellent)**.

BCBSM Inc.

A- (Excellent).

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi, A Mutual Insurance Company

A (Excellent).

Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia Inc.

A (Excellent).

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Mutual Insurance Co.

A (Excellent).

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Inc.

A+ (Superior)*.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Inc.

A (Excellent).

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska Inc.

A- (Excellent).

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont

B++ (Good)***.

Blue Cross of California

A (Excellent).

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of South Carolina

A+ (Superior).

Highmark West Virginia Inc.

A (Excellent).

Highmark Inc.

A (Excellent).

Wellmark Inc.

A (Excellent).

Wellmark of South Dakota Inc.

A (Excellent).

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon

A (Excellent).

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah

A (Excellent).

Regence BlueShield

A (Excellent).

Regence BlueShield of Idaho Inc.

A- (Excellent).

Health Care Service Corp.

A (Excellent).

California Physicians' Service (Blue Shield of CA)

A (Excellent).

Triple-S Salud Inc.

B++ (Good).

USAble Mutual Insurance Company

A (Excellent).

*An A+ rating in this category indicates that AM Best believes the company has a superior ability to meet its ongoing insurance obligations.

**An A or A- rating in this category indicates that AM Best believes the company has an excellent ability to meet its ongoing insurance obligations.

***A B++ rating in this category indicates that AM Best believes the company has a good ability to meet its ongoing insurance obligations.

Compare alternatives

Here's how Medicare Supplement Insurance providers compare with Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Compare Medicare Supplement Insurance providers

Complaint rate: 67% worse than the market average.

Service area: 43 states.

Percent of premiums spent on benefits: 75.6%.

Complaint rate: 63% better than the market average.

Service area: 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Percent of premiums spent on benefits: 71.7%.

Complaint rate: 24% worse than the market average.

Service area: 16 states.

Percent of premiums spent on benefits: 68.6%.

Complaint rate: 0.4% better than the market average.

Service area: 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Percent of premiums spent on benefits: 72.6%.

Complaint rate: 40% worse than the market average.

Service area: 48 states and Washington, D.C.

Percent of premiums spent on benefits: 75%.

Complaint rate: 335% worse than the market average.

Service area: 49 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Percent of premiums spent on benefits: 77%.

Complaint rate: 62% better than the market average.

Service area: 49 states and Washington, D.C.

Percent of premiums spent on benefits: 71.4%.

Complaint rate: 50% better than the market average.

Service area: 45 states and Washington, D.C.

Percent of premiums spent on benefits: 71.7%.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield

Blue Cross Blue Shield began as two companies — Blue Cross and Blue Shield — that offered affordable health care solutions in the early 1900s and started to come together in the 1940s. It was made official in 1982 when they formed the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which now includes 34 independent and locally operated companies across the country. Nationwide, it provides health care coverage to 110 million members in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has two main offices, in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Find the right Medicare Supplement Insurance plan

Because Medigap plans are standardized, you can get precisely the same Medicare benefits from any company offering the plan. So when you shop, keep these considerations in mind to find the best policy to fit your needs:

  • Is your preferred plan available? Health insurance companies don’t always sell every plan, so check who sells the plan you want to buy in your area.

  • What are the premiums? Prices for the same plan can vary between companies, so check to find the most competitive rates.

  • Will your premiums change over time? Most policies cost more as you age, but some companies offer policies that let you lock in a price when you sign up.

  • Are there extras? Medigap plans’ core benefits are standardized, but in certain cases, some companies include such perks as discount programs or gym memberships.

If you have additional questions about Medicare, visit Medicare.gov or call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227, TTY 877-486-2048).

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