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With tens of millions of Americans enrolled in original Medicare, and with many enrollees adopting a Medicare supplement plan to enhance their healthcare services, the whole program can be pretty daunting. There are a number of decisions to make when joining Medicare that can have long-term impacts on your health coverage and your pocketbook, leading many folks to feel indecisive about what plans to enroll in, when, and how much they should spend on care.
The one thing every person on Medicare has in common is that they want the most coverage in the most cost-effective way possible. That’s why so many people choose to enroll in Medigap Plan G and Plan F, which give policyholders extensive health coverage. But what’s the difference between the plans? Who can enroll? When can you enroll? How much do these plans cost? These are some of the questions we’re going to help answer in this article.
Which Is Better: Plan F or Plan G?
The most exhaustive Medicare supplement plan, or Medigap, is Medigap Plan F. This plan provides holistic coverage and supplements all gaps in Medicare. Coming in at No. 2 on the list of most comprehensive plans is Plan G, which is identical to Plan F, aside from not having the Medicare Part B deductible. Because of their comprehensive coverage, Plan F and Plan G tend to be the two most popular policies on the market.
However, it is important to note that if you are new to Medicare, you can no longer enroll in Plan F because the government has phased out the plan. If you were enrolled in Medicare and Plan F before January 1st, 2020, then you can still keep Plan F for your lifetime. But, again, Plan F is no longer accepting new enrollees.
Plans Are Standardized
Before going into plan specifics, we’re going to quickly talk about how Medigap plans are standardized across the country. This means that plans have the same coverage benefits, no matter who you are or where you live. Be it Joe from Baton Rouge or Jane from Missoula, if they are enrolled in the same Medigap plan, they will receive the exact same coverage benefits. The only difference will be the rates they pay, which depend on factors such as age, gender, health factors like tobacco use, and, most importantly, location. Standardization has greatly simplified Medigap price shopping by removing a multitude of riders and nuances that were extremely cumbersome.
What Does Plan F Cover?
Plan F is so popular because people like the peace of mind this comprehensive plan brings. Plan F has something called first-dollar coverage, meaning that the policy covers both Parts A and B of Medicare. As you might expect with such comprehensive coverage, Plan F has high premiums. So while the broad coverage is nice, you should weigh your options before enrolling.
Here’s what’s covered under Medigap Plan F as stated by Medicare World Plus:
• Deductibles for both Medicare Part A and Part B
• Coinsurance and/or copayment amounts for Medicare Part A and Part B
• Hospital coinsurance for a year after Original Medicare Part A benefits are used
• Part B excess charges
• Hospice care coinsurance
• Skilled nursing care coinsurance
• Three pints of blood per year (for approved procedures)
• Foreign travel emergency care (up to plan limits)
Medigap Plan F has approval ratings through the roof primarily because people enjoyed not having to pay anything out of pocket for medical services. However, the premiums that came with it were not always well received.
What Does Plan G Cover?
Medigap Plan G is almost identical to Medigap Plan F with one key difference. Medigap Plan G does not cover the Part B deductible. Thankfully this deductible is sitting at just $203 per calendar year in 2021 and is projected to only increase to $217 in 2022. With such a small difference and the premium typically $200-$300 a year less expensive, it is no wonder so many people are choosing Medigap Plan G.
It is important not to rush into choosing one plan over another just because you like the initial sound of the benefits of a particular plan. Likewise, just because you’re enrolled in one plan today doesn’t mean you should never consider enrolling in a new one. However, certain circumstances can apply, such as moving outside of your policy service area, which will allow you to switch plans. There is a lot to learn and consider if you do want to switch plans.
Overall, it’s important to review your current plan before you start thinking about supplemental coverage. Weigh your options carefully before making any changes to ensure you fully understand how it impacts your coverage.