Medicare has several options, or “parts,” you can enroll in to obtain health insurance coverage. These include:
- Part A (hospital insurance)
- Part B (medical insurance)
- Part C (Medicare Advantage)
- Part D (prescription drug coverage)
You may have also heard of something called Medicare Plan F. Medicare Plan F isn’t a “part” of Medicare. It’s actually one of several Medicare supplement insurance (Medigap) plans.
Medigap comprises several plans you can buy to help pay for things that original Medicare (parts A and B) doesn’t.
Keep reading to find out more about Plan F, what it includes, and who can enroll.
Medicare supplement insurance can help pay for healthcare costs that original Medicare doesn’t cover. About
Private companies sell Medicare supplement plans. There are 10 different Medicare supplement plans. You’ll see them designated as letters: A through D, F, G, and K through N.
Each of these different plans is standardized, meaning the same set of basic benefits needs to be offered. For example, a Plan F policy offered by Company A must include the same basic benefits as a Plan F policy offered by Company B.
The various Medicare supplement plans each offer different benefits. Some plans offer more benefits than others. Plan F is generally considered to be the most comprehensive.
Below are some of the pros and cons associated with having a Medicare supplement plan.
Advantages of Plan F
- helps cover expenses that original Medicare doesn’t, such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copays
- sometimes covers medical expenses during foreign travel
- several different plan options available
- standardized plans are easier to compare
- guaranteed to be renewable each year, regardless of your health
- can buy any policy you’re eligible for during the open enrollment period, regardless of your health
- can visit any doctor or provider that accepts Medicare
Disadvantages of Plan F
- can be costly, having high monthly premiums
- may not be able to buy a plan after the open enrollment period has passed
- doesn’t cover things like dental, vision, or long-term care
- doesn’t cover prescription drugs (any plans sold after Jan. 1, 2006)
- may be difficult to switch to a different plan
- may not be able to buy a plan if you’re under 65 (companies aren’t required to sell polices to those under 65)
You may buy a Medicare supplement plan during your open enrollment period, which begins the month you’re 65 and after you’ve already enrolled in Medicare Part B.
However, at the beginning of 2020, the guidelines for who can enroll in Plan F changed. These changes are as follows:
- People who are new to Medicare from Jan. 1, 2020, and onward will not be able to buy Plan F.
- If you already had Plan F before Jan. 1, 2020, you’ll be able to retain it.
- If you were eligible for Medicare before Jan. 1, 2020, but delayed enrollment, you may still have the option to buy Plan F when you do choose to enroll.
This change is being made because Medicare supplement plans sold to people new to Medicare can no longer cover the Part B deductible. Because Plan F (and Plan C) offer this benefit, people new to Medicare won’t be able to buy them.
Plan F contains many benefits. These include 100 percent coverage of the following:
- Medicare Part A coinsurance
- Medicare Part A deductible
- hospital costs
- first three pints of blood
- skilled nursing facility coinsurance
- Medicare Part A hospice care coinsurance or copays
- Medicare Part B coinsurance or copays
- Medicare Part B deductible
- Medicare Part B excess charges
Plan F also covers 80 percent of the cost of medically necessary care while you’re traveling in a foreign country.
Like other Medicare supplement plans, Plan F typically doesn’t cover:
- dental care
- vision care, including eyeglasses
- hearing aids
- long-term care
- private nursing
Private companies offer Medicare supplement plans. As such, the cost of a plan can vary greatly by company, even for the same benefits.
You’ll have to pay a monthly premium with a Medicare supplement plan. This is in addition to premiums you pay for other parts of Medicare, such as Medicare Part B or Part D.
A provider can set their Medicare supplement plan premiums in three different ways:
- Community rated. Everyone who has the policy is charged the same amount regardless of how old they are.
- Issue-age rated. The premium is determined by how old you are at the time you buy the policy. Premiums are lower for younger buyers and higher for older buyers, but don’t increase as you age.
- Attained-age rated. The premium increases as you get older. Your policy will become more expensive as you age.
High deductible plan F
Plan F also has a high deductible option. While monthly premiums for this option may be lower, you must pay a deductible before Plan F begins paying for benefits. For 2020, this deductible is set at $2,340.
This includes copays, coinsurance, and deductibles that aren’t covered by original Medicare. There’s also a separate deductible ($250) for medical expenses during foreign travel.
how to shop for a Medigap plan
Follow the tips below while shopping for a Medicare supplement plan:
- Pick a plan. There are several Medicare supplement plans to choose from. The extent of coverage can vary by plan. Review your health-related needs to decide on one that’s right for you.
- Compare policies. Once you’ve decided on a plan, compare the policies offered by different companies, as costs can vary. Medicare’s website has a helpful tool to compare the policies offered in your area.
- Consider premiums. Providers can set their premiums in different ways. Some premiums are the same for everyone, while others may increase based on your age.
- Remember high deductible options. Some plans have a high deductible option. These plans often have lower premiums and may be a good choice for someone who doesn’t anticipate a lot of medical expenses.
Plan F is a plan that’s included in Medicare supplement insurance (Medigap). It can help pay for expenses that aren’t covered under original Medicare.
Out of all of the Medicare supplement plans, Plan F offers some of the most extensive coverage.
Starting in 2020, people who are new to Medicare won’t be able to buy plan F. If you already have Plan F, you can keep it. If you were eligible for Medicare before 2020 but haven’t enrolled, you may still be able to buy Plan F.
All Medicare supplement plans have a monthly premium. The amount can vary by policy, as companies can set their premiums in various ways. It’s important to compare different Medicare supplement polices before choosing one.