By Wiley Long
President
MediGap Advisors

How to Choose the Best Medicare Supplement Plan for YOU

Newsletter Issue #4

                                                                                   

In last month’s newsletter, I showed you how Jerry from Denver, CO suffered a massive stroke while driving and racked up over $42,700 in out-of-pocket medical costs AFTER Medicare paid their portion because he didn’t have a Medicare supplement plan. This month I’m going to show you the 10 standardized Medicare supplement plans available and the benefits offered by each plan.

In most states each of the 10 Medicare supplement plans offers a “standard” or same set of benefits, although some may offer a few extra benefits. (These plans differ in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts).

Although there are 10 standardized plans (Plan A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N), there are many insurance carriers who offer these plans. For example, Plan F is one of the 10 standardized plans, but this plan may be offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, Mutual of Omaha, Humana, or Standard Life, to name just a few. Rates vary by insurance carrier, so it’s important to shop around.

Plan F: How to Keep Your Monthly Premiums Low

Most Medicare supplement plans do not have a deductible, except for Plan F, which offers a $0 deductible or high-deductible option. By taking on a little more risk and signing up for the high-deductible Plan F (with a deductible and out-of-pocket maximum of $2,300), you can significantly reduce your monthly premium.

For instance, by running an instant quote, a 65-year-old male in Georgia has a choice of carriers offering the standard Plan F with monthly premiums ranging from $158 to $236. By choosing the high-deductible Plan F, he can reduce his monthly premium to only $73 per month -  a small price to pay to avoid losing all of your assets and savings to medical costs not covered by Medicare!

Rates do vary by state. In Virginia for example, the same 65-year-old male can find the standard Plan F for premiums as low as $123 and the high-deductible plan F for as low as only $39 per month!

Plan A also offers an affordable option. Plan A provides minimal coverage including coverage for your Part A and Part B coinsurance; however, you would be responsible for your Part A and Part B deductibles and Part B excess charges, and foreign travel is not included.  Plan G is also very popular.

Limiting Your Out-of-Pocket Expenses

In addition to Plan F, other low-cost option are plans K, L, and M. These plans cover anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of Medicare’s 20 percent coinsurance, and Plan K and L limit your annual out-of-pocket expenses - Plan K at $5,560 and Plan L at $2,780. Understanding how these plans work can be tricky, so here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re seen at your orthopedist’s office and the approved Medicare charge is $200.00. Medicare pays 80 percent, or $160.00. Your Medicare 20 percent coinsurance is $40.00. Plan K picks up 50% of this coinsurance, or $20.00 - leaving you a patient balance of $20.00. After you have accumulated $5,560 in out-of-pocket costs, Plan K will then pay 100 percent for the rest of the year.

Travel Outside the United States

Medicare doesn’t cover medical expenses incurred outside the United States, so if you plan on traveling, this coverage is critical. Plans C, D, F, G, M and N all cover emergency care within the first 60 days of your trip outside the United States after a $250 deductible. Coverage is payable at 80 percent with a $50,000 lifetime maximum.

I Want it All!

If you’re looking for nothing but the best, this may be the plan for you! Plan F covers everything from deductibles, to coinsurance, foreign travel, and Part B excess charges. Plan N is a close second, it covers everything plan F covers except it does not cover Part B excess charges or your Part B deductible of $185 (for 2019). Learn more about Plan F and N and other Medicare supplement plans on our MediGap Advisors’ blog page.

Determining the Best Coverage for You

Every individual’s needs are different. Your specific needs may require repeated admissions to the hospital, necessitating a plan that covers your Part A deductible. Another individual may travel outside the country often, requiring a plan with foreign travel medical coverage.

It’s important to speak with your Personal Benefits Manager when choosing a plan so they can take all of your personal needs into consideration and find the plan that meets your needs as well as your budget. You can view our Medicare Supplement Benefits Grid for a complete list of Medicare supplement plans and review their coverage.

Next month I’ll talk about Medicare Advantage plans, a low cost alternative to original Medicare.

Best regards,

Wiley P. Long III
President - MediGap Advisors