By Tony King
Tony: We received a 20% increase for our Plan F Medicare Supplement effective October 1st. I am a 70 year old woman in good health but my husband, Fred, is undergoing cancer treatment. Also, his cardiologist advised him that he might need a pacemaker.
My friends advised me that we must wait until the Medicare Annual Enrollment to switch from our current Medicare Supplement plans.
I’m concerned that with the Medicare surcharge increasing, we may not be able to afford the premiums. What should we do? Would a Medicare Advantage plan be a good option for Fred’s cancer struggles? ~ Carol from Tampa, Fla.
carol: Getting your Medicare information from friends can lead you down the wrong path. You received inaccurate information from a caring friend. I have good news for you, because you don’t have to wait until Medicare’s annual filing to switch your Medicare supplement insurance company. You can change your Medicare supplement at any time during the year. (You can change your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D prescription drug plan during the Medicare annual enrollment period.)
The Medicare supplement extension is more than the public expected for Plans F and C. In 2015, Congress passed legislation called the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) to help the medical industry correct the Doc Fix. Suggestion. MACRA also updated Medicare Supplement Plans F and C, which began on January 1, 2020. That’s when increases in Medicare Supplement Plans F and C began.
Carol, you — and anyone who wants to change their current Medicare Supplement Plan who has been enrolled in Medicare Part B for more than 6 months — can choose to switch from your current Medicare Supplement Plan F to a different Medicare Supplement company or type to switch Medicare supplemental plans such as Plan G or N. However, both you and your husband must qualify to make a change to your Medicare supplemental plans by answering health insurance questions.
If you are unable to qualify because of a health issue, another option is to look for the right Medicare Advantage plan to meet your medical needs. The only catch with making a change to a Medicare Advantage plan is that, as I said above, you have to wait until the Medicare annual enrollment period, which begins October 15th and runs through December 7th each year.
Here’s how Medicare supplement plans G and N differ from a Medicare supplement plan F:
• Medicare Supplemental Plan G offers lower rates and the same Medicare benefits as Plan F, except that the Medicare Part B deductible is not covered and is paid for by the registered Medicare beneficiary. The Part B deductible for 2022 is $233.
• Medicare Supplemental Plan N generally has lower premiums than Plan G, with generally higher deductibles. There is a $20 co-pay for a physician visit and a $50 co-pay for emergency room care. The Part B deductible is not covered, and the Part B deductible is not paid by the insurance company that includes Plan G.
A warning: Do not cancel your existing policy until approved by your new Medicare Supplement insurance company.
King is an author and columnist on Medicare and health insurance topics. She worked as a top sales manager in the field for more than 27 years. For answers to questions about Medicare, email [email protected] or call 832-519-8664. You can now visit www.seniorresource.com/medicare-moments to listen to her Medicare Moments podcasts.