Whether you're just signing up for Medicare, considering switching plans or helping a loved one navigate Medicare health insurance, comparing supplement plans is an important part of the process.
In addition to your basic Medicare coverage, it's common to sign up for a Medicare supplement plan or Medicare Advantage, which helps to cover costs not included in Medicare Parts A and B.
Medicare supplement plans, also referred to as Medigap plans, help to fill in coverage gaps for the federal government’s health insurance for those age 65 and over. The various Medicare supplement plans consist of Plans A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M and N.
Plans F and G, which are the two most popular supplement plans, are offered by private insurance companies, such as United HealthCare and Humana.
Benefits of Plans F and G
The benefits associated with Plans F and G include:
• Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to an additional 365 days after Medicare benefits are used up.
• Part A deductible.
• Part B coinsurance or copayment.
• Part B excess charge, which is a charge by your provider beyond the Medicare-approved amount.
• Blood (first three pints).
• Skilled nursing facility care coinsurance, as well as hospice care coinsurance or copayment.
• 80% of the cost of health care costs incurred while traveling in a foreign country, up until your plan’s limits.
Who Qualifies for Plans F and G?
Importantly, Plan F is only available for those who turned 65 or qualified for Medicare before January 1, 2020. In 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, also called MACRA, that blocked access to Plan F for those people who became eligible after January 1, 2020.
Although many people sign up for Medicare when they're first eligible at or around age 65, others may wait. For instance, if you were working at a place that offered health insurance benefits when you turned 65, you may have opted to stay on that insurance coverage rather than switching to Medicare. Once you retire, you may want to start taking advantage of your Medicare benefits.
Plan F vs. Plan G Deductible
The other major difference to consider when comparing Plans F and G is that F covers the annual Part B deductible of $226, but Plan G doesn’t, explains Valerie Osborn, director of Medicare sales at MVP Health Care and based in Albany, New York. That deductible amount can change from year to year.
“For a long time, Plan F was considered the gold standard, providing the most comprehensive coverage,” says Bob Rees, vice president of Medicare member loyalty for eHealth, an online brokerage for Medicare based in Santa Clara, California. “Plan F is being phased out for new beneficiaries. Plan G is the closest thing to Plan F that’s currently available to new beneficiaries.”
Costs of Plan F vs. Plan G
Most people signing up for Medicare won’t have the option to choose between supplement Plans F versus G because of MACRA. No matter what your plan choices are, you’d be wise to consider your total annual out-of-pocket costs for deductibles, copays and premiums. Compare those side by side for any plan you’re considering. There are online tools on websites, such as eHealth, to help give you a side-by-side comparison.
To compare costs, make sure you're looking at the deductible and the monthly premium. For instance, if you qualify for both Plans F and G, Plan F may seem advantageous at first because you don’t have to pay the $226 deductible for Part B. However, a typical monthly premium with Plan F is $234 a month for a 65-year-old female who does not use tobacco, says Jennifer Byrd, an insurance broker specializing in Medicare who’s based in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. Although premiums will vary by your location and other factors, a premium for that same person would be roughly $192 under Plan G.