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Medicare Plan F vs Plan G vs Plan N: Comparison
There are many factors to consider when shopping for a Medicare supplement plan. Understanding the coverage provided by the different supplement offerings can help you determine which plan is right for you. Generally, your Medicare will cover up to 80% of approved health care costs. Supplement plans, also known as Medigap, help with any additional costs, which have the potential to be substantial or unexpected. Depending on the plan you choose, your Medigap plan will help cover most, if not all, of these additional costs.
Following is a comparison of the three most-popular Medicare Supplement plans: Plan F vs Plan G vs Plan N. These three earn their popularity from their comprehensive coverage. All three are similar in their coverage, but differ in a few distinct ways that may help you decide which plan would work best for you.
While private insurance companies offer the supplement plans, Medigap plans are standard across the entire country. That means the basic set of benefits provided by a Medigap plan in one state will provide the same basic set of benefits in another state.
How Does Medicare Plan F Work?
Of all the Medicare supplement plan offerings, Plan F has long been the most popular. The simple reason for this is that Plan F offers the most comprehensive coverage of all the supplement plans.
Medigap Plan F covers the following health care costs:
- Part A Deductible: Medicare Part A does not cover your hospital insurance costs until the deductible for each benefit period is met ($1,364 for 2019). Plan F covers your entire Part A deductible, regardless of how many benefit periods you have in the year.
- Part A Coinsurance and Hospital Costs: After you have exhausted your Original Medicare benefits, Part A requires a coinsurance payment ($341 per day for 2019) for inpatient hospital stay days 61-90. The coinsurance payment increases if the stay lasts longer than 90 days ($682 per day for 2019). Plan F covers all of these coinsurance costs.
- Part B Coinsurance or Copayment: After the Medicare Part B annual deductible has been met ($185 for 2019), Medicare requires a 20% coinsurance or copayment for all covered services. Plan F covers any Part B coinsurance or copayment costs.
- First Three Pints of Blood: Original Medicare alone does not cover the first three pints of blood for use in a medical procedure, such as a blood transfusion. Plan F covers the cost of the first three pints of blood.
- Part A Hospice Care Coinsurance or Copayment: Beneficiaries that are in hospice care can face copayments for certain prescription drugs, as well as a 5% coinsurance payment for inpatient respite care. In the event this occurs, Plan F covers any of these copayment or coinsurance costs.
- Skilled Nursing Facility Care Coinsurance: If a beneficiary requires extended stay in a skilled nursing facility, Medicare requires a copayment ($170.50 per day for 2019) for days 21-100 once your Part A deductible has been met. After day 100, Medicare requires that you pay all costs. Plan F covers all skilled nursing care facility coinsurance costs.
- Part B Deductible: Medicare Part B does not cover your medical insurance costs until you meet the deductible amount ($185 per year for 2019). These costs come from some of the more expensive hospital services, such as procedures like surgery or chemotherapy, or preventive services like screenings and doctor visits. Plan F covers the cost of your Part B deductible.
- Part B Excess Charge: In the event that you visit a health care provider that does not accept Medicare assignment, it is likely you receive an excess charge of up to 15% of the Medicare-approved amount for any Medicare Part B covered services or products. Plan F covers any excess charge, regardless of amount.
- Emergency Care for Foreign Travel: While Original Medicare covers some qualifying foreign emergency care, Plan F covers 80% of the costs for qualifying care that you receive outside of the U.S.
Additionally, Plan F offers a high-deductible plan. With this option, you must pay for any Medicare-covered costs up to the deductible amount of $2,300. The plan will not cover any costs until this amount is reached.
Something important to be aware of for Plan F availability, however, is that it will be discontinued starting on January 1, 2020. Any new enrollee after this date will be unable to enroll in Plan F. However, if you enroll before this date, or are eligible to enroll before this date, Plan will still be available to you.
What Does Medigap Plan G Cover?
Plan G offers the same coverage as Plan F except for a single difference: it does not cover the Medicare Part B deductible. As mentioned above, these are your medical insurance costs, which can be some of the more expensive hospital services. For 2019, the Part B deductible is $185 per year. Another way to look at that cost is as a monthly payment of just over $15 a month. Because Plan G does offer the Part B deductible, it likely will cost less than Plan F. However, supplement plan costs vary depending on your location and the insurance company offering it.
If coverage for the Part B deductible is not a crucial aspect to you in a supplement plan, then Plan G may be a good choice. This would especially be true for you if the available Plan F options are at least $15 more expensive per month (the cost of the Part B deductible) than the Plan G option.
What Does Medigap Plan N Cover?
Plan N offers the same coverage as Plan G, in that it also does not cover the Medicare Part B deductible like Plan F does. However, it differs from Plan G by not covering Medicare Part B excess charges. As mentioned above, you can incur Part B excess charges when your health care provider does not accept Medicare assignment.
So, when comparing Plan N to Plan F, Plan N has the same coverage except that it does not cover the Medicare Part B deductible or Medicare Part B excess charges. Plan N also covers the Medicare Part A deductible at 50% compared to the 100% coverage of Plan F.
Also, it is important to note that Plan N pays 100% of the Part B coinsurance, except for a copayment of up to $20 for some office visits and a copayment of up to a $50 for emergency room visits that don’t result in inpatient admission.
Because it lacks some of the coverage of Plan F, Plan N is typically a less expensive plan. It may be a worthwhile option for those who would prefer paying less for their premium but with the potential for more out-of-pocket medical expenses. Also, if you are in good health with minimal trips to the doctor, Plan N may be a good choice.
Choosing the Best Medigap Plan
For starters, be mindful of your enrollment options. Make sure you are set to enroll during your Open Enrollment Period. As soon as you are readying enrollment in Medicare Part B, you should also be looking at your Medigap plan options. Once you have enrolled in Part B, you have a 6-month window to shop Medigap plans in which insurance companies cannot turn you down due to a pre-existing condition.
Choosing the right Medigap plan will likely come down to your specific health care needs or the breadth of coverage you feel most comfortable with. Medigap Plans F, G, and N offer the same basic benefits as one another with only minor distinctions in coverage. However, a difference like the Medicare Part B deductible, and whether or not your plan covers it, might be the deciding factor for you as you balance it against your financial and health care needs. Your location may also help you decide, as some plans may not be available to you in your area or may vary in cost.
Learn more about these Medicare supplement plans by connecting directly with one of our trusted agents. We offer expert advice and honest opinions on all of our available plans. If you’re interested, we can guide you all the way through your enrollment. Give us a call!