People enrolling in Medicare Supplement plans in 2020 will have two fewer options. Starting January 1, 2020, Plans C and F will no longer be open to new enrollees. However, if you sign up for either of these popular plans before the end of 2019, you can keep your coverage.
Medicare Coverage Changes Under Plans C and F in 2020
Plans C and F are Medicare Supplement, or “Medigap” plans that work alongside regular Medicare. Medigap coverage pays healthcare expenses not covered by Medicare Parts A and B, including deductibles, copays and coinsurance. There are 10 plans in all, but C and F are the only ones that provide “first dollar coverage.” This means that you do not have to pay a deductible out of your own pocket before Medigap begins to pay.
Plan F is the gold standard of plans, and it’s also the most popular Medigap plan. With plan F, virtually all of your expenses are covered, including:
- The 20 percent that Medicare Part B doesn’t pay for doctor, outpatient and emergency room visits.
- The Medicare Parts A and B deductibles. For 2018, the Part A deductible is $1340 and the Part B deductible is $183.
- Excess charges, or a 15 percent surcharge that providers can add to your bill if they don’t think Medicare’s payment rate is high enough.
Plan C has the same benefits as Plan F except that it does not cover excess charges.
Upcoming Changes Impacting Plans C and F
The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 eliminates all Medigap plans that cover the Medicare Part B deductible. This means that Plans F and C will no longer be sold beginning January 1, 2020.
The reason for the change is that some members of Congress believe people will over-use healthcare services if they don’t have to pay anything at all. By making everyone meet the Medicare Part B deductible, legislators hope to give people some “skin in the game” and prevent them from running to the doctor for every minor ailment. Critics argue that the deductible may keep people from getting care they need. When people don’t see a doctor, they can end up with more serious conditions down the road.
The change only impacts people who are enrolling in Medigap plans after January 1, 2020. If you are already enrolled in Plan C or F, or if you sign up before the end of 2019, you can still keep your plan. You can also switch to a different insurer’s plan C or F with better rates. However, as time goes on and fewer people are enrolled in Plans C and F, your premiums may begin to go up.
Best Medigap Options for 2020 and Beyond
The Medicare Supplement options that come closest to providing the same level of coverage as Plans C and F are plans G and N.
- Like Plan F, Plan G covers virtually all your medical and hospitalization costs, including excess charges. The only difference between the two plans is that plan G requires you to pay the Part B deductible. Plan G is already a popular plan because it offers great coverage at a lower cost than Plan F.
- Like Plan C, Plan N covers almost everything except excess charges. There are two differences between Plan C and Plan N. First, Plan N does not cover the Part B deductible. Second, with Plan N, you may have to pay a co-pay of up to $20 for doctor visits and up to $50 at the emergency room.
Plan G is a good bet if you want the fullest possible coverage. Once you meet the annual deductible, you shouldn’t have any further expenses for services covered by Medicare. Plan N is a good choice if you are looking to save money on premiums, don’t mind a small copay, and aren’t concerned about excess charges. Excess charges aren’t allowed in some states, and even where they’re permitted, not all providers charge them.
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