Medicare Cost Plans are being discontinued in 2019. Expect these plans to go away this year. This has beneficiaries from across the country calling and asking if their Medicare Cost Plans will be going away next year.
For some, the answer is yes. However, others may not see a change in these cost plans yet. As of now, discontinuation will depend on the area you live in.
Medicare Cost Plans Being Discontinued in 2019
Cost plans are a type of health insurance plan. Working with private health insurance companies, Cost plans provide beneficiaries additional coverage that Original Medicare doesn’t offer.
Since the 1970’s Medicare Cost Plans have been available through private insurance companies, like Medicare Advantage plans. Cost plans and advantage plans have a maximum out-of-pocket cost.
In addition, both plans limit you to a specific network of providers. This means you can only see the doctors that your plan offers. Going outside your network will leave you with the responsibility of payment for services.
Medicare Cost Plans can be a little confusing because they’re a hybrid of Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement plans (Medigap).
Of course, both plans must offer the same benefits that Original Medicare does. However, these plans often offer additional benefits. Therefore, beneficiaries are fond of these plans.
On the other hand, Cost plans are much like Medigap plans because of the way they work alongside Original Medicare.
Meaning, if you were needing medical assistance from an out-of-network provider Original Medicare will cover the expense instead of your cost plan. Medigap works the same way.
The Reason Behind Cost Plans Retiring
Originally, cost plans were to assist beneficiaries who lived in areas that didn’t have the same options for Medicare Advantage plans.
So why are these plans going away? Well, over the years, Medicare Advantage plans have become more popular. This has made the Cost plans unnecessary, most enrollees have at least one Advantage plan available to them in their area.
Moreover, this isn’t exactly a new change. Government Accountability Office (GAO) made sure this decision was in the best interest of beneficiaries by conducting numerous audits.
The GAO found that Cost Plans aren’t necessary to keep if at least two competing Medicare Advantage plans were available in the previous year. Another factor is if the Medicare Advantage plan had a minimum number of enrollees during the previous year.
When Will Medicare Cost Plans Retire
You can expect Medicare Cost Plans to change or go away beginning the first of January 2019. Across the country, there are 15 different states that have Medicare Cost Plans as an option.
States that offer Medicare Cost plans include Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, New York, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington DC.
If you live in any of these states, check with your local Medicare agent to see if your plan or coverage will change.
Minnesota has the most Cost plan enrollees in the entire country. Beneficiaries in this state will see a huge change in 2019. If you live in Minnesota, notifications should have come via U.S. mail. This notification explains if your county is discontinuing Medicare Cost plans.
Only 21 counties in the state of Minnesota will be keeping Cost plans as an option, for now. That means 66 counties will be seeing a change in health coverage.
Medicare cost plans are being discontinued in 2019 and you need to find a replacement! Cost plan enrollees should investigate switching their plans before this change takes place, you don’t want to have a lapse in your coverage.
The AEP (Annual Election Period) is when you can make changes to your current plan; this begins October 15th and lasts this year until February 28th, 2019 for those losing their Cost Plan.
Insurance companies have been and will continue to add more Medicare Advantage plan options because of the discontinuation of Cost plans; which will give enrollees more choices when they decide to switch plans.
You can always revert to Original Medicare and then apply for a Medigap Plan. The Medigap plan can help cover costs of what Original Medicare doesn’t cover; like co-payments, deductibles, or coinsurance.
Applying for a Supplement Plan outside of your Open Enrollment Period requires you to fill out forms regarding your health condition(s).
Cost plans enrollees have no option but to change their plan. For this reason, between November 2nd, 2018 and March 4th, 2019 beneficiaries may enroll in a Medigap plan and avoid answering the health questionnaire.
More options! You may decide to go back to Original Medicare. In this case, you may need additional coverage for your prescription costs.
If you don’t choose a plan yourself, by default, Medicare will choose a Medicare Advantage plan that is like your current Cost plan coverage.
I don’t like the plan I switched to
If you don’t like the plan you have chosen, you may choose to enroll in a different plan. You may choose to go back to Original Medicare or choose a different Medicare Advantage plan that best fits your health needs. The time to do this is from January 1st – March 31st, 2019.
Importantly for enrollees that have had a Medicare Cost plan with only Medicare Part B, must enroll in Medicare Part A no matter what option is chosen.
Do this change in person at your local Social Security office. The best time is during the Medicare General Enrollment Period.
When you are deciding on what plan is best for you, think about a few different things that you like about your current Cost plan.
Ask yourself, do you like the option of being able to choose your own doctors without needing a referral? Or maybe you travel often, and the flexibility of providers is necessary. If so, a Supplement insurance plan may be the best option for you.
Does your current Cost plan include prescription drug coverage? If you have monthly prescriptions, the out-of-pocket costs can be financially draining.
Cost plans that cover your prescriptions can provide great relief. Seeking advice from a licensed Medicare agent can help you choose the best plan for you.
Get Help Replacing Medicare Cost Plans Being Discontinued
Medicare cost plans are being discontinued in 2019. New information and the constant change within Medicare can get confusing. Don’t worry! We’re here to help you!
It’s important to explore all available options before selecting a new plan. Consult with one of our Medicare agents for any further questions or concerns. Our team is happy to help you.
We will do all the hard work. Our agents will compare plans and find the plan that will be most beneficial to you. Give us a call today at the number listed above or fill out a form online.