Many Medicare beneficiaries wonder what affordable Medicare Supplement insurance plans are available in their area. Navigating the numerous letter plans, as well as keeping up with which ones are still offered and discontinued, can be a daunting task.
We’re here to help make the task of searching for affordable Medicare plans a little easier. Below, we’ll discuss Medicare plans for Traditional Medicare, as well as Medicare Supplements, that are a little easier on your wallet.
Affordable Medicare Plans
Medicare Part A is free to most Medicare beneficiaries, Medicare Part B has a premium. There are a few situations for higher income earning beneficiaries where the Part B premium is more.
Medicare Part A provides hospital benefits and all services rendered during a hospital stay. Medicare Part B provides outpatient benefits which include doctor’s office visits, labs and diagnostic imaging, outpatient surgeries, physical therapy and ER visits.
Regardless of whether it’s Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B that’s being used, once the deductibles have been met, both provide coverage at 80%. The leftover 20% is responsible for the Medicare beneficiary to pay out of pocket.
The remaining 20% not covered by Medicare can easily add up and cost beneficiaries a lot in out of pocket expenses. Good news is, there are other affordable Medicare plan options that can be added onto your Original Medicare benefits.
Affordable Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans
Medicare Supplement Plans were created to be coupled with Original Medicare benefits. In addition to the 80% coverage offered by Original Medicare, Medicare Supplement Plans provide secondary benefits for the other healthcare expenses not normally covered.
Deductibles, copayments, coinsurance and other items not included with Original Medicare benefits would then be covered by the supplemental insurance policy.
The additional benefits offered by Medicare Supplement Plans can leave little to no out of pocket expenses for the Medicare beneficiary.
Generally, except for a few states, there are 10 letter plans. Each letter plan consists of a combination of added benefits to pair with Original Medicare Part A and Part B.
Each supplemental insurance plan is offered by private insurance companies located in your area. Regardless of where you live, each letter plan benefits are the same.
The only difference with the plans is the cost, as each individual insurance carrier determines the monthly premiums and will vary on a variety of factors.
Age, gender and location are a big factor into what each individual insurance company charges.
Additionally, different pricing methods are used:
- Issue-Age-Rated– premiums are based on the age in which the Medicare Supplement Plan is purchased.
- Attained-Age-Rated– Premiums are based on the age in which the insurance is purchased but will also increase as you age.
- Community-Rated– premiums are the same based on where you live regardless of age.
Medicare Supplement Plan premiums will vary over time regardless of which method is used.
To reiterate, each letter plan has the exact same benefits regardless of where you live, however, the premiums will vary based on the insurance company and which method they decide upon when charging premiums.
Top Affordable Medicare Supplement Plans
Medicare Supplement Plan G benefits include coverage for the Medicare Part A deductible, as well as the 20% coinsurance and copayments not covered by the Traditional Medicare benefits.
It also covered excess charges and medical emergencies while traveling abroad. The only thing it does not cover is your Part B deductible.
Medicare Supplement Plan N is one of the 4 “cost-sharing” plans. Plan N is considered one of the more affordable Medicare Supplement Plans but provides less benefits.
It offers coverage for the Medicare Part A deductible, medical emergencies while traveling abroad, and the 20% not covered by Original Medicare.
Plan N does also cover 100% of the Part B coinsurance. The “cost-sharing” term kicks in here because you do have to share the cost on this one a little.
There’s a copayment of up to $20 for some office visits and up to a $50 copayment for any emergency room visit that does not result in being admitted into the hospital.
Medicare Supplement Plan C is the next affordable supplement plan on the list. It’s very comparable to Plan G, with only two differences. Plan C does not cover excess charges; however, it DOES cover your Part B deductible, unlike Plan G.
Keep in mind, excess charges are not very common, not having coverage for this may not impact your out of pocket costs at all.
Also important to note, 1st dollar coverage plans, including Plan C, will be going away in 2020. You can still sign up for Plan C now and will be grandfathered in. But after January 1st, 2020, you will no longer be able to sign up for Plan C.
Which of the Top Affordable Medicare Supplement Plans is the Cheapest
Of these 3 more affordable Medicare Supplement Plans, Plan N, in most cases, comes out to be the cheapest option. With Plan C next in line, followed by Plan G. Again, the cheaper the plan the lesser the benefits.
Why is Plan F Not One of the More Affordable Medicare Supplement Plans
You may be wondering why Plan F is not on this list. That’s because, even though it’s one of the most popular plans, it’s not the most affordable Medicare Supplement Plan.
With higher premiums comes more benefits. It also comes with lower out of pockets costs in the long run.
Plan F is one of the most expensive plans, so if you’re looking for cheaper premiums, Plan F is not for you. It’s also going away in 2020, including the High-Deductible Plan F.
High Deductible Plan F premiums are much cheaper than the regular Plan F, due to the higher deductible. You’ll have until the end of 2019 to enroll in HD Plan F as well.
Affordable Medicare Advantage Plans
Now, Medicare Supplement Plan C is NOT the same as Medicare PART C. Part C is Medicare Advantage.
Medicare Advantage Plans are said to be the more affordable alternative to a Medicare Supplement Plans. However, you get what you pay for.
Medicare Advantage Plans, or Medicare Part C, are also commonly referred to as Medicare Replacement Plans. They REPLACE both Medicare Part A and B. You CANNOT have a Medicare Advantage Plan & Medicare Supplement Plan at the same time.
Beneficiaries are attracted to Medicare Advantage Plans because of the lower, or $0-dollar premiums. However, many restrictions do apply. Most Medicare Advantage Plans come in PPO or HMO form and have a smaller network of physicians and hospitals to choose from.
Additionally, most Medicare Advantage Plans require referrals for specialists and outside diagnostic testing and treatments. While these plans offer cheaper premiums, oftentimes there’s coverage limitations that can offset the lower premium charges.
Due to many agents advising new beneficiaries to join a Medicare Advantage plan, without explaining the many restrictions, Medicare was forced to bring back the Medicare Open Enrollment Period.
Too many beneficiaries were signing up for “affordable” Medicare Advantage Plans, then quickly realizing they did not have the coverage they wanted or needed. But they were stuck with the plan until the next Medicare Annual Enrollment Period.
Starting in 2019, if you signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan that didn’t allow you to see the doctor you wanted to see, or didn’t cover the pharmacy of your choice, you have another opportunity to switch back to Original Medicare.
You can instead pick up an affordable Medicare Supplement Plan and stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan. You can also switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan if you wish.
Compare Rates on the More Affordable Medicare Supplement Plans
To compare rates for affordable supplemental health insurance for seniors, give us. call. You can also compare rates side by side using our online rate comparison form here.