If you are enrolled in Original Medicare Parts A and B, you should consider purchasing a Medicare supplement insurance policy, or Medigap plan, to reduce your cost burden. Medigap Plan F remains the most popular choice, though this will no longer be true in 2020. Learn current details about this plan option as well as its planned discontinuance.
How Medigap Plans Work
Original Medicare requires beneficiaries pay certain expenses out-of-pocket, with no limit annually to these costs. Out-of-pocket expenses will vary according to the individual's circumstances, such as location and health conditions. Expenses include deductibles, coinsurance amounts and copayments for services and goods received.
You can purchase an optional Medicare supplement insurance policy from a private insurance company to help cover some, most or all of your out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Medicare itself. Plans in all but three states include 10 standardized sets of benefits identified by letters A through N, except E, H, I and J. Medigap plans require payment of a monthly premium. The higher the premium, the lower your deductible.
The plan you choose should be tailored to your needs. For example, if you frequently travel out of the country, you should consider a Medigap plan that covers healthcare received outside of the United States.
Medigap plans are not available if you enroll in Medicare Advantage instead of Original Medicare.
Services and Costs Covered by Plan F
The most popular plan, Medigap F has the highest monthly premium of the Medicare supplement plans since it provides the most comprehensive coverage. Plan F provides the maximum allowed coverage for nine benefits, which means you have no annual deductibles and no out-of-pocket costs for procedures covered by Medicare. Specifically:
- Part A coinsurance plus coverage for up to 365 additional days after Part A benefits
- Part B coinsurance or copayment for outpatient services, treatments, supplies, and more
- Coverage for the first three pints of blood
- Part A coinsurance or copayment for hospice care
- Part A coinsurance for skilled nursing facility care
- Part A deductible for hospitalization
- Part B deductible for medical services (only until the end of 2019)
- Part B excess charges, the difference between what a doctor or other provider legally charges and the Medicare-approved amount
- 80% (up to your plan's limit) of foreign travel emergency coverage
Typical Rates for This Medigap Plan
The national average cost for Medigap Plan F is $1,712 annually, which is around $143 a month. Plan F is the most affordable in Hawaii, with an average annual cost of $1,310 a year, or around $109 a month. In Massachusetts, the average annual projected cost of Plan F is $1,947, which is about $162 a month. The Medigap High-F premium averages about $68 a month
Future Availability of Plan F
Congress passed a law to discontinue the two plans that cover all Medicare deductibles. As of January 1, 2020, new enrollees will not be able to select either Plan F or Plan C. Though discontinued for new beneficiaries, if you are already enrolled in Plan F, you can continue under that plan indefinitely.
Alternatives to Plan F
Because many experts speculate that the premiums for Plan F will increase significantly over the years following its discontinuance, you might want to consider selecting an alternative plan. The Medigap option closest in benefits is Plan G. This plan covers all the same services as Plan F, with one exception: you will be responsible for paying the Medicare Part B deductible, which is $185 in 2019.