How to Choose A Medicare Supplement
(A Comparison of the Three Most Popular Plans)
So, you’ve likely come to realize that Medicare leaves some expensive coverage gaps wide open. In other words, you’re going to need some Supplemental coverage to ensure you won’t get hit with any high, unexpected out-of-pocket costs.
But let’s face it: comparing benefits among Medicare’s eleven lettered plans isn’t easy. There’s a lot to consider, and many people don’t even know where to start.
Although I won’t detail all of Medicare’s plan options that we offer (that would require an encyclopedia-length blog post), I will compare the cost and benefits of the most popular Medicare Supplements our clients choose: Plans F, G, and N. I will outline what each plan offers, highlight the major differences, and go over the pricing based on the current lowest rates of the diverse range of companies we represent.
Let’s meet the line-up.
Plan F—The Luxury Plan
Plan F is Medicare’s most popular plan, accounting for 53% of all policy types. Plan F is what many like to call the “Cadillac plan” because it is provides the most comprehensive coverage of all Medicare’s supplement coverage options. And, judging by this chart, detailing its benefits, it definitely lives up to its name:
|Medicare Supplement Benefit
|Does Plan F Cover It?
|Part A Hospital Coinsurance—and up to 365 additional hospitalization days after Medicare benefits end
|The 20% Part B Coinsurance and Copayments
|Blood (First 3 Pints)
|Part A Hospice Care Coinsurance and Copayments
|Skilled Nursing Facility Coinsurance
|$1340 Part A Deductible
|$183 Part B Deductible
|Part B Excess Charges
|Foreign Travel Emergency
So, in other words, Plan F guarantees little to no out-of-pocket costs. The only things that aren’t going to be covered in Plan F are health care costs that aren’t covered in any of Medicare’s supplemental coverage options such as dental, vision, and hearing care. But I usually don’t recommend insuring these costs.
However, as you may have guessed, with such a high-quality benefit package, you are going to pay for it in premiums. Here are our current lowest rates:
- For a female, age 65: $125.72 per month
- For a male, age 65: $140.06 per month
Before we meet Plan G, there is one other thing you need to consider about Plan F: it is being discontinued in 2020 (click here for more information). You can still hop on a Plan F, and you will be allowed to stay on even after 2020, but this is very important to consider (because rates can increase dramatically when a plan is discontinued).
Plan G—The Second Place Winner
Plan G is silver medalist when it comes to benefits. It covers everything that Plan F covers, except for one thing: the Part B deductible. This means that in a Plan G you will have to meet that $183 deductible before Medicare pays anything for outpatient costs each calendar year. With that in mind, let’s look at the costs:
- For a female, age 65: $100.57 per month
- For a male, age 65: $110.52 per month
So, this is an easy comparison. A Plan G is about $300 cheaper than Plan F per year. Subtract the $183 from that, and you come to a net savings of, well, $117 per year. So, in other words, it’s a wash. However, you have to keep the following things in mind:
- This is assuming you meet the deductible every year. If you don’t, the savings can be much higher.
- This is based on our current rates. When you sign up, there may be a bigger difference in premium between Plan F and G.
- This isn’t taking into account that Plan F is historically more prone to rate increases and that these rate increases are likely to happen more frequently after Plan F discontinues.
Now, moving on to our third most popular plan.
Plan N—The New Kid on the Block
Introduced in June of 2010, this plan showed up late to the party, although it still holds its own when it comes to high-quality benefits at reasonable prices.
However, there are some things that Plan F covers that Plan N does not. Like Plan G, you will have to pay the $183 deductible. In addition, you will also have to pay up to a $20 copay for each doctor’s office visit and up to a $50 copay for each emergency room visit.
Finally, the last thing that a Plan N doesn’t cover is Part B excess charges. Allow me to explain a little bit of what this is…
For every imaginable procedure, Medicare has an approved amount of what it should cost to perform it. In Ohio, healthcare providers are never allowed to charge above this Medicare-approved amount, no matter what. However, outside of Ohio, some states allow providers to issue an excess charge of up to 15% more than the Medicare approved amount. Plan N may leave you on the hook for that 15% outside of Ohio.
So, here’s my recommendation for my fellow citizens of the buckeye state: If you rarely leave Ohio except for a few weeks out of the year, whether a Plan covers Part B excess charges shouldn’t really factor into your decision. But if you are a snowbird in a state where those excess charges are allowed or you travel frequently, it may be something to consider.
Now, without further ado, the costs:
- For a female, age 65: $80.97per month
- For a male, age 65: $93.21 per month
So, compared to a Plan G, you pay about $300 less in premiums. Whether this pays off in the end depends on how much you visit the doctor or emergency room in a given year, which—not surprisingly—is impossible to pin down. Taking the Part B excess charges out of the decision, you would have to go to doctor 10 times and the emergency room twice for a Plan G to be worth it. I hope that puts it into perspective, and you can make a decision based on your unique situation.
Because, in the end, no matter which plan you choose (if any of them), it is a personal decision.
One More Vital Piece of Advice
After you’ve decided on one of Medicare’s 11 plans, I have one piece of advice for you: Shop with an independent agency!
All of these plans will offer the same benefits, no matter which company you chose, but the premiums can vary dramatically. If you just call one company, they will only sell you their plans, which may or may not be the best value on the market. Independent agencies, on the other hand, can compare rates across companies to find the best value for you.
If you want to compare Supplement rates now, you can use our free quoting tool. We do not ask for any personal information, so you can be sure you are not in for an onslaught of junk emails!
Or, if you are ready to talk to a local, independent agent, call Seniormark at 937-492-8800. We are here to help!
Note: All pricing is based on the zip code 45365. They are very good estimates, but prices may vary.