Your Medicare eligibility date impacts the coverage that you qualify for. If you are eligible for Medicare before 2020, then your options will be different than those of Americans who become eligible from January 1, 2020 on. Since Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) in 2015, the plans with no deductible, like Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Plans F and C, will no longer be available.
For the beneficiaries already enrolled in Medigap Plan F or Plan C, you can rest easy knowing that you're grandfathered into your policy. However, it's important to understand that after 2020, you may see a rate increase if you have one of these policies.
Medicare Eligibility Before and After 2020
Plans F, C, and High-Deductible Plan F are going away for new enrollees in 2020. However, Americans who are already on Medicare prior to 2020 should be able to select or switch from these plans at any time in the future.
So, if you are eligible for Medicare Parts A and B by December 2019, then you'll be able to enroll in one of these plans at any time in 2020.
The best time to enroll in a Medicare Supplement is during your Guaranteed-Issue period. This enrollment period begins on your Part B effective date and ends after six months. The Guaranteed-Issue period grants you approval on your Medigap application regardless of any pre-existing conditions.
You could still enroll after this time period, but you would need to answer medical underwriting questions and the carrier could deny coverage or give you an increased premium rate.
If you only become eligible for Medicare on January 1, 2020 or later, then you won't be able to enroll in Medicare Supplement Plan F or Plan C. Since Plan F is being discontinued, High-Deductible Plan F will also be unavailable for those becoming eligible for Medicare in 2020.
High-Deductible Plan F is Retiring
There is plenty of information on Plans C and F hitting the road, but most Medicare beneficiaries don't realize that High-Deductible Plan F will also be going away.
Medigap policy High-Deductible Plan F provides beneficiaries with the same coverage as the traditional Medigap Plan F, except there is a high deductible of $2,240. Medicare Supplements are standardized by the government so, the plan benefits are the same across all the insurance companies that offer that plan.
Congress believes that seniors should put more of their own money into their healthcare. With Plan F, seniors wouldn't need to pay anything other than the premium on covered services, so it seems like they could easily be tempted to overuse their healthcare benefits.
Plans F, C and High-Deductible Plan F are going away for new enrollees in 2020. However, those who are already on Medicare prior to 2020 should be able to select or switch from these plans at any time in the future. If you notice that your Plan F premium becomes too high for your budget, then you can always switch to another plan. Depending on the state you live in and other eligibility factors, you may be required to answer some medical questions.
It's also important to remember not to cancel your current coverage until your new policy is in place. Otherwise, you could experience a lapse in coverage or, worse, get denied and left with no coverage. Talking to a licensed insurance agent in your state can provide you with an idea of the costs of other plans in your area, and what options could be best for you.
Rumors of High-Deductible Plan G
It would make sense to replace the High-Deductible Plan F with a comparable plan, and the next best thing would have to be a High-Deductible Plan G. Standard Plan G is similar to Traditional Plan F; it provides for every Medicare-covered service in full after the Part B deductible is met.
When High-Deductible Plan G is introduced, it's possible that the same Part B deductible will count toward your plan's deductible. Once those deductibles are met, the plan might pay 100% of covered services until the next calendar year.
This policy would be a good fit for beneficiaries who want comprehensive coverage but find the standard Plan G is out of their budget. This would also work well for beneficiaries currently experiencing a rate increase on High-Deductible Plan F and looking for a way to benefit from quality coverage without breaking the bank.
Your Plan, Your Choice
Sure, if you become eligible for coverage in 2020, you may be feeling like you got the short end of the stick. But please, understand that those who remain on Plan F, C, or High-Deductible Plan F already pay a pretty penny for their first dollar coverage.
There is likely to be another plan added to the mix of standardized supplements, like the High-Deductible Plan G. Many people could benefit from such a plan, and there are also other plans available like standard Plan G, which is my personal favorite. There are even great prices on options like Medigap Plan N in most states.
Whether you become eligible prior to or after 1/1/2020, there will be a plan that suits your needs and makes you feel confident in your healthcare coverage. No matter who you are, or when your Medicare effective date is, it's important that you stay updated on important Medicare changes.
I know that 2020 is a big year for everyone, all the "ole sports" are ready to roar into the 20's, but don't forget there are big things happening this year too. 2019 has some important Medicare changes that you should know about.
The more you know, the more confident you'll be in your Medicare plan and in your plan choice. Remember that Medicare.gov is a valuable resource that will allow you to look up information and learn about your options.
If you're new to Medicare or going to be new, you should look at pricing and coverage options from various companies before choosing a plan. You can also work with an insurance broker that can check all the companies for you, saving you time and money.
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