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Medicare Supplement Plan F Overview

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In addition to the coverage provided by Medicare, consumers have the option to purchase Medicare supplement plan F to provide enhanced coverage. One of the most popular Medicare supplement plans on the market today.

Medicare Basics

For anyone just turning 65, Medicare can seem hopelessly confusing. Two key things to remember are that Part A is hospital insurance, while Part B covers out-patient services. Most people, when they turn 65, get Part A and Part B automatically, which will cover many of their medical costs — but not all of them. To fill in the “gaps” in coverage, private insurance companies provide policies known as Medicare supplements, sometimes called Medigap policies. There are ten different Medigap plans available — A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N, as well as a high-deductible version of Medicare supplement F. Each of the policies offer a different combination of benefits, but plan F is the most comprehensive. In order to purchase a supplement plan, you must have Part A and Part B.

Medicare Supplement Plan F 

As a supplement to Part A and Part B, Medigap plan F provides comprehensive health coverage. As such, it is by far the most widely used Medicare supplements. A 2015 AHIP report shows that 57% of supplement policies are F plans. With plan F, you will likely have no costs associated with any health services you use, whether it’s a visit to the doctor or a lengthy hospital stay as long as Original Medicare pays first.

 

How Plan F Supplements your Medicare Part A

One of the main advantages of Medgap insurance, in general, and Medicare supplement plan F, specifically, is the expansion of hospital coverage. If you are hospitalized, Part A will cover the cost of a 60-day hospital stay, after you pay a deductible. With the addition of plan F, not only will the deductible be covered, you will also have an additional 30 days of hospitalization paid for. Also, for a serious illness that requires a lengthier hospital stay, you will have up to 60 lifetime days covered in full. If those benefits are ever exhausted, you will be eligible for coverage of an additional 365 lifetime days.

Medicare supplement plan F also includes coverage for a stay in a skilled nursing facility if it is needed after you’ve been hospitalized. You will have the ability to remain in a skilled nursing facility for up to 100 days, the first 20 being covered by Part A and the remainder covered by your Medicare supplement insurance.

How Plan F Supplements Medicare Part B

Part B, which covers costs from doctors and other healthcare providers is also enhanced with the addition of plan F. With just Part B; you would be responsible for paying 20% the cost of any medical care you receive outside of a hospital. Medigap insurance, including Medicare supplement plan F, will cover the 20% co-insurance. There is an annual Part B deductible that would also be paid by plan F, so you would see no bills coming to you as a result of any medical services.

Medicare supplement plan F also covers what are called “excess charges.” Doctors who see patients can agree to accept Medicare assignment, meaning that they agree to accept whatever Medicare will pay them for their services. If a doctor opts not to accept Medicare assignment, however, he or she can charge you up to 15% more than what Medicare will reimburse them for. These extra costs or “excess charges” are completely covered by plan F.

Prescription Drug Coverage

The one thing that supplements, including Medicare supplemental plan F, do not cover is prescription medications. For that, you will need to purchase a separate insurance policy. The part of Medicare that covers prescription drugs is called Part D. Under Part D, private Medicare insurance companies sell policies that cover prescription medications. These policies have monthly premiums, like any insurance coverage, and have formularies or lists of drugs that they cover. In each state in the country, there are many different companies selling Part D plans. Medicare.gov offers an online tool to help compare drug plans and get quotes to see which will provide the most cost effective coverage for the drugs that you take. Reviews of the plans are also provided. Each year, from October 15 to December 7, there is an Open Enrollment period during which you can compare costs online for the coming year.

Consumers often wonder why they need drug coverage if they aren’t taking any prescription medications. As with any insurance, having a policy in place will protect you from high out-of-pocket costs if you do need an expensive prescription. Another good reason to consider getting drug coverage when you turn 65 is that you will pay the penalty for not getting one if you decide to enroll at a later date. This penalty is added to the monthly premium of whatever drug coverage you have, for as long as you have it.

Medicare Supplement Plan F Provides Freedom of Choice

One of the most appealing features of Medicare supplement plan F is the flexibility that it allows. Unlike MA’s, which are another way to get coverage, there is no network of doctors and hospitals to worry about and no need for referrals to see a specialist. You can see any doctor, anywhere the country, that accepts Medicare. If you are happy with your current healthcare provider, as long as he or she accepts Medicare, you can stay right where you are.

Is Medicare Supplement Plan F Right For You?

So how do you know if the F plan is a good choice for you? If you want to think about health insurance as little as possible, then Medicare Part F is likely to be a good option. It is also a good choice for someone with a chronic health condition that requires frequent doctor visits or tests. Rather than have to worry about copays adding up or even skipping necessary tests because of the extra costs, F picks up the cost of every visit and every test, so you don’t ever have to put your health at risk.

Let’s look at Betty and Sam, two recent enrollees in Medicare supplement plan F. They are snowbirds, living in Massachusetts in the summer and Florida in the winter, and they love to travel outside the US whenever they can. They are thrilled with their plan F because, whether they are in Boston or Boca, they can go to any doctor, anywhere, and don’t have to worry if something goes wrong. And when the travel bug hits and they decide to jet off to other parts of the world, they can relax knowing that their plan F covers them wherever they go. If they are in a foreign country and have a medical emergency, their Medicare supplemental plan F would cover 80% of any medical expenses they incurred, after a deductible.

Enrolling in Medicare Supplement Plan F

When you turn 65, there are a lot of decisions to be made and purchasing Medicare supplement insurance is one of them. Remember that you need to have Part A and Part B in order to purchase a Medigap plan, including plan F. Once you have enrolled in Part B, you have a six-month open enrollment period in which to decide on the best Medicare supplement. Of course, you don’t want to wait until the last minute to make a selection. Working with an agent to research and compare policies before you turn 65 so you have a plan in place will ensure that you don’t go without coverage you may need. During this six-month period, you have what is known as “guaranteed issue rights,” meaning that an insurance company cannot refuse to sell you a plan for any reason and cannot charge you more based on your health. After that six-month period, though, the rules change, and you may not have access to the coverage you want. If that should occur, be sure and discuss your situation with an agent to find out what your options are.

If you have other health insurance coverage from an employer or a union, you can opt not to purchase plan F when you first turn 65. When you retire or if you lose that other coverage at some point, you will have a special enrollment period during which you can purchase a Medicare supplemental plan from any company that is selling it in your state.

Part vs. Plan – What’s in a Word?

One thing that is confusing to nearly everyone new to Medicare is the terminology, especially the “Parts” and the “Plans.” Medicare has only four “Parts” — A, B, C and D. Part A is hospital insurance, Part B is medical insurance, Part C is Advantage, and Part D is drug coverage. The “Plans” are the Medicare supplements that work with Part A and Part B. These are plans A through N, and include F. So, while there is a supplemental plan F, there is no Part F. But don’t worry if you can’t keep it straight – it’s confusing to everyone, but an agent will know what you mean.

Medicare Supplement Plan F Costs

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We’ve discussed the fact that the Medicare supplemental plans are standardized, meaning that every plan F, regardless of the company selling it, is the same. The Medicare supplement plan F rates, however, will vary from company to company, sometimes quite dramatically. Let’s say that 65-year old Sally is trying to decide where to live when she retires. She’s a non-smoker and is looking into Medigap policy costs from top-rated, national insurance companies in three different parts of the country. As you can see in the chart below, Medigap rates are quite different depending on where you live and on which company you choose.

                           Texas         Pennsylvania                  Florida

Company A      $142                   $141                         $297

Company B      $158                   $177                         $277

Company C      $126                   $138                        $356

Rates are not endorsed or sponsored by any insurance company; we provide information based on our professional opinion

In some states, the Medicare supplement plan F rates will be different for men and women, and some companies charge higher Medicare plan F rates for smokers. To find out what your Medicare supplement plan F rates are, you will need to request quotes from the companies that sell F policies in your state. You can also work with an agent who can help you compare quotes and provide you with information on company reviews and on any discounts that may be available.

High-Deductible Plan F

Of the eleven Medicare supplement plans, two are F options – Medicare supplemental F and High-Deductible F. So which is the best supplement plan F? As the name suggests, High Deductible Medigap F is the same as standard F, but with a deductible, which typically changes every year. (In 2017, the deductible for the High Deductible F is $2,200.) The High Deductible plan has the same benefits as the standard F, but the coverage doesn’t start until you have paid the deductible. For example, if you purchased a High Deductible Medigap plan, you would need to pay the full amount of any co-pays associated with doctor visits, tests, outpatient procedures, etc., until they added up to the amount of the deductible. At that point, your High Deductible Medigap policy would work just like a standard plan F, meaning that the policy would pay for all of the costs associated with your medical care.

So, should you consider the High Deductible policy? That’s a very individual question but one thing to keep in mind is that, if you compare it to the standard F, your costs will be less predictable. While the High Deductible Medicare supplement plan F rates are lower than the standard Medicare supplement plan F rates, it will be difficult to know how much your out-of-pocket costs will be from month to month until you meet the deductible. The standard plan F, on the other hand, is much more predictable, since your only cost is the monthly premium. If you are considering this option, discuss it with an agent who can review the possible scenarios and help you compare.

Medicare Supplement Plan F vs  G

We’ve focused our attention on Medicare supplement plan F, but another Medigap, plan G, is becoming more popular in some states. The benefits of the policies are nearly identical, with the exception of the Part B deductible ($183 in 2017). Plan F will pay the annual Part B deductible and plan G will not. Some simple math will tell you if you might be better off with Medigap plan G than paying Medicare supplement plan F rates. First, find the annual cost of the lowest priced plan G and the lowest priced F. If the difference between the two is more than the Part B deductible, you may save money by choosing the G policy and paying the Part B deductible. If you are trying to decide on the best Medigap plan F and evaluating the rates, it’s worth looking at the prices of the G policies offered in your state to see if you could save some money.

Ready to Buy?

If you think you’ve found the best Medicare supplement plan F but still have some questions, there are a few ways to turn. You can do your research online and compare the offerings available in your state. You can also contact the companies selling the policies in your state directly, but they are only able to give you information on their policies and won’t be able to help you compare their offerings with those of their competitors. A licensed insurance agent, on the other hand, can do a lot of that work for you The can review all of the options available to you, provide a side-by-side cost comparison of premiums and benefits and guide you to the top-rated carriers.

Many Providers to Choose From

Wherever you live, there are many companies selling Medicare supplement plan F policies. But when you are new to Medicare, it’s hard to know which company has the best Medicare plan F for you. Having worked in this field as long as we have, our agents can help you find the company that will be the best fit. Based on our experience, some companies that stand out as providing high-quality service to customers are:

You are probably already familiar with these company names, and for a good reason. They all have long track records and stellar reputations, both of which are important considerations when choosing an insurance provider. And, as insurance providers, they are under intense scrutiny to make sure that they are providing the highest level of service to beneficiaries. These are not just some of the largest insurance companies in the world; they are some of the largest companies of any type in the world. Which means that they have the resources, technology, online presence, and staff to satisfy even the most demanding customer. Our agents can give you more information on these companies and their Medicare supplement plan F rates and offerings.

Looking to the Future

One important benefit of Medicare supplement plans is that they automatically renew each year, giving you one less thing to worry about. So, if you feel like you’ve found the company with the best Medicare supplement plan F rates and service, you’ll never have to think about it again. One caveat to that, however, is that the premiums may go up. The companies can’t charge you more if you get sick but they can raise the rates for everyone who owns a particular policy, so it is important to pay attention to any communication you receive from the insurance company. If you do get a notice of a rate increase, an agent can help you review your options and advise you on making a change, if that seems necessary.

You can get information on supplement policies and use our online quote tool to find out what a Medicare supplement plan F would cost in your state. Just put in your zip code and birthdate, and you will be able to request quotes from top insurance providers. If you have questions, we have licensed insurance agents who can help you make the choice that is right for you.