Ratings Methodology for Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)

NerdWallet’s ratings for Medicare Supplement Insurance, or Medigap, companies take into account the following details about each insurance company:

  • Premiums.
  • Consumer complaints.
  • Discounts.
  • Plan types offered.
  • Medical loss ratios.
  • Availability of online price quotes.
  • Extra non-Medicare perks and benefits.

  • The best Medigap insurance companies offer competitive premiums, especially for the most popular standardized plan types. They make pricing information readily available and have few customer complaints. They might also offer helpful non-Medicare extras, such as fitness memberships, meal delivery services or driver safety courses.

    Data collection and review process

    NerdWallet reviewed 13 Medicare Supplement Insurance companies based on highest enrollment and greatest online search volume.

    We collect data points for each Medicare Supplement Insurance company from its public-facing websites, plan materials, company representatives, public filings and regulator data. These data points are then compared against one another and against NerdWallet’s standards for good health insurance companies to determine a star rating.

    Data is collected on a regular basis and reviewed by our editorial team for consistency and accuracy. Final star ratings are presented on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, where a 1-star score represents "poor" and a 5-star score represents "excellent." Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

    Note: The federal government calculates its own star ratings for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, but there are no government star ratings for Medicare Supplement Insurance. NerdWallet’s Medigap star ratings are independently researched, calculated and maintained.

    Information updates

    Our writers and editors review insurance companies on an annual basis and make additional updates throughout the year as necessary. We maintain contact with companies and monitor public data and regulatory filings to keep information current.

    The review team

    The writers and editors behind our Medicare Supplement Insurance reviews are insurance specialists who have had their work featured by or appear in The Associated Press, The Washington Post, USA Today, ABC News, Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq and MarketWatch. Each writer and editor follows NerdWallet’s strict guidelines for editorial integrity.

    In addition to Medicare Supplement Insurance, the team also covers Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D and other subjects related to older adults’ health care and finances.

    Factor weightings

    Our star ratings are weighted based on our editorial and professional opinions. We use the following weightings when rating Medicare Supplement Insurance companies:
  • Premiums (35%).
  • Consumer complaints (30%).
  • Discounts (10%).
  • Availability of online price quotes (10%).
  • Plan types (5%).
  • Medical loss ratio (5%).
  • Extra perks (5%).
  • Premiums: We collect data from price estimates filed by health insurance companies with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for the two most popular Medigap plan types available to new Medicare beneficiaries, Plan G and Plan N. We analyze and compare premiums for both plans in multiple locations representing high-cost, average-cost and low-cost areas of the country. We use price estimates for a new 65-year-old female nonsmoker without any additional discounts applied as the basis for comparison. A company’s price for a given plan is scored based on how close it is to the lowest available price from any company for the same plan type in the same location.

    Consumer complaints: We examined complaints received by state insurance regulators and reported to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. To assess how insurers compare to one another, the NAIC calculates a complaint index each year for each subsidiary, measuring its share of total complaints relative to its size, or share of total premiums in the industry. To evaluate a company’s complaint history, we calculated a similar index for each insurance company, weighted by market shares of each subsidiary. We score companies based on this index of how many complaints the company receives relative to its market share.

    NerdWallet conducts its data analysis and reaches conclusions independently and without the endorsement of the NAIC.

    Discounts: We score companies based on the availability and size of premium discounts offered to applicants and whether details about potential discount amounts are publicly available.

    Availability of online price quotes: We consider whether customers can get personalized price quotes on the company’s website. This is a “yes” or “no” score.

    Plan types: Companies that offer a larger number of the 10 standardized Medigap plan types rank higher in this category. We counted plan types based on the options most commonly offered in the majority of states where a company does business. These ratings don’t include high-deductible plan options, Medicare Select plans, non-standardized plan types in Massachusetts, Minnesota or Wisconsin, or other innovative or waivered plan types.

    Medical loss ratio: The medical loss ratio is a comparison between a company’s income from premiums and what it pays out for member benefits. Companies rank better on this metric if they spend more on benefits and less on other overhead expenses such as administrative costs, marketing, salaries and commissions.

    Extra perks: The Medicare benefits of each Medigap plan are standardized, but companies can offer extra perks and certain non-Medicare benefits on top of the mandatory benefits that are the same for everyone. We scored companies based on the availability and value of any extra perks offered. Examples include discount programs for health and wellness products, free or discounted fitness memberships, 24/7 nurse lines, driver safety courses and meal delivery services.

    Bonus points may be awarded to insurance companies that offer useful features such as the option to add hearing, vision and dental coverage riders to Medigap plans.

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