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Know more about my Medicare options

What’s Changing with Medicare Supplement Plan F and Plan C?

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When it comes to enrolling in Medicare, whether for the first time or when switching Medicare Supplement insurance policies, it’s a good idea to stay in the know about plan updates and pending changes. If you’re deciding which Medicare plan is right for you, there are changes in Medicare Supplement Insurance plans C and F coming up that you should know about.

In 2015, Congress signed a law changing several aspects of health care coverage, including Medicare Supplement insurance. If you’re eligible for Medicare after January 1, 2020, you won’t be able to join any plans that cover the Part B deductible.1 This includes Medicare Supplement Plan F, as well as Medicare Supplement Plan C. But what does that mean for you?

What is Medicare Supplement Insurance?

Medicare Supplement Insurance, also known as Medigap, helps cover costs that Original Medicare (Parts A and B) doesn’t. These typically include out-of-pocket expenses, like:

  • Deductibles
  • Copays
  • Coinsurance

There are currently 10 types of Medicare Supplement Insurance plans in 47 states. (Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin have their own plans.) Like Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans, Medicare Supplement plans are provided by private insurance companies.

You have to be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B to purchase a Medicare Supplement plan. And you will have to pay a monthly premium in addition to the premiums you’re paying for Original Medicare coverage.

If you need prescription drug coverage, you will need to get a Medicare Part D plan alongside your Medicare Supplement plan. If you need health care coverage for dental, hearing or vision services, you may want to consider adding a plan that covers those or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes these benefits instead of a Medicare Supplement plan.

How does this legislation affect Medicare Supplement Insurance?

Of the 10 plans that are available to most Medicare Supplement applicants, two of those plans cover the Medicare Part B deductible as part of their coverage. The Medicare Part B deductible in 2018 was $183.2 It’s easy to understand the appeal of folding that cost into a plan that covers more of your out-of-pocket expenses.

Plan C has no out-of-pocket limit, and covers:

  • Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to an additional 365 days after Medicare benefits are exhausted
  • Medicare Part B coinsurance or copayment
  • First three pints of blood
  • Medicare Part A hospice coinsurance or copayment
  • Skilled Nursing Facility coinsurance
  • Medicare Part A Deductible
  • Medicare Part B Deductible
  • 80% of foreign travel emergency care (up to Plan limits)

Plan F covers everything Plan C does, and also covers Medicare Part B excess charges. These two plans are some of the most comprehensive Medicare Supplement Insurance plans you can purchase, which makes them a very attractive option. But it’s an option that won’t be available much longer to people who are newly eligible to Medicare.

If these plans are going away in 2020, why do I care now?

Plan C and Plan F will no longer be options for new enrollees as of January 1, 2020. That may seem like quite a distance away, but consider the Medicare enrollment window. You have seven months in which to make a decision about your coverage. Knowing what options are in front of you is important.

It’s also important to realize that your options may be different from your co-workers’ or even your spouse’s options. If you and your partner are both looking at retirement, you may be doing research on your healthcare options together. But if your partner’s birthday falls after the January 1, 2020 cutoff date, the plan that works for you might not be available for them.

If you’re eligible for or enrolling in Medicare after January 1, 2020, neither Medicare Supplement Plan F or Plan C will be an option for you. But don’t worry! There are several other Medicare plans available that can help support your health care needs.

What does this mean for current Medicare enrollees?

The good news is, if you already have Medicare Supplement Plan C or Plan F, you can keep it. And, if you’re turning 65 before January 1, 2020, you’re eligible to continue to apply for these plans.

If you currently have a Medicare Supplement Plan C or Plan F, you can move that coverage to another insurance company if your current premiums increase. Your timing is flexible. You can apply for Medicare Supplement plans all year round. So, if you want to switch your Plan C or F to another provider, you’ll still be able to do that as you would normally.

Just keep in mind that when you switch plans, your application may be underwritten by the insurance provider. This means the provider may take a look at your medical history, current health habits and more background information when deciding whether to provide you with coverage.

What are my other options?

For those looking for more comprehensive cost coverage, there are still several other Medicare Supplement plans to choose from. These offer different combinations of copayments, coinsurance, and more to help make paying for treatment under Medicare easier. Medicare Part D is still available to help cover the costs of prescription drug treatments.

And of course, many people opt for Medicare Advantage coverage, instead of Medicare Supplement Insurance. Medicare Advantage works with private insurance companies, as well. But it offers a broader spectrum of care. It typically includes coverage for vision, dental, hearing, and prescription drugs – none of which are covered under Original Medicare.

Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement insurance are mutually exclusive. You can’t have both. So if you opt for a Medicare Advantage plan, there’s no need to stress over the loss of these Supplement plans.

Want to learn more about Medicare?

We know there’s a lot to learn when it comes to Medicare, if you would like information about Medicare and the plans available, we’re always here to help you.


SOURCES:

1 Congress.gov (April 16, 2015). Web page: H.R.2 – Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. Retrieved on October 10, 2018, from https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2

2 CMS.gov (November 17, 2017). Web page: 2018 Medicare Parts A & B Premiums and Deductibles. Retrieved on October 10, 2018, from https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/factsheets/2018-medicare-parts-b-premiums-and-deductibles

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