UNITED STATES—Toni: We have received a 20 percent increase for our Plan F Medicare Supplement that is effective May 1. I am a 70-year-old female in good health, but my husband is undergoing cancer treatment at MD Anderson. Also, his cardiologist has advised him that he may need a pacemaker.
My friends have advised me that we will have to wait until October when Medicare Annual Enrollment begins to change from our current Medicare Supplement plans. I am concerned that with the Medicare Supplement increase we may not be able to afford the premiums. What should we do? Would a Medicare Advantage plan be a good option to change to with Fred’s cancer issues? Carol from Denver.
Carol: Carol, you were given wrong information from your friends. I have good news for you because you do not have to wait until Medicare Annual Enrollment to change your Medicare Supplement insurance company and enroll in a new plan. You can change your Medicare Supplement any time during the year. Medicare Annual Enrollment is a time to change your Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan.
You are not alone with receiving a Medicare Supplement plan increase. It seems that the renewal increase is more than the public is expecting. Most insurance agents are finding out about the Medicare Supplement increases via an email from the insurance company informing of a renewal rate adjustment.
In 2015, Congress passed legislation called “Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015” (MACRA) to help the medical industry by correcting the “Doc Fix” proposal. MACRA also made changes to Medicare Supplement’s plans F and C which began January 1, 2020 and so Medicare Supplement plan increases began.
Anyone that wants to change their current Medicare Supplement plan and have had their Medicare Part B longer than 6 months must now answer underwriting questions regarding their current and past health issues as you and your husband will have to do.
Carol you have an option to change from your current Medicare plan to a different Medicare Supplement company or a different type of Medicare Supplement plan such as plan G or N. Carol both you and your husband must qualify by answering medical underwriting questions.
If you cannot qualify because of a health issue, then another option may be to search for the right Medicare Advantage plan to fit your medical needs. The only catch to making a change to a Medicare Advantage plan is that you must wait until Medicare Annual Enrollment period which begins October 15th thru December 7th every year.
The difference in Medicare Supplement Plans:
- Medicare Supplement Plan F: is available to those with Medicare Part A with an effective date prior to January 1, 2020. Plan F has less out of pocket with premiums which maybe higher.
- Medicare Supplement Plan G: offer lower rates and the same Medicare benefits as Plan F except the Medicare Part B deductible is not covered and will be paid for by the enrolled Medicare beneficiary. Part B deductible for 2021 is $203.
- Medicare Supplement Plan N: generally has lower premiums than Plan G with generally more out of pocket. There is a $20 co pay for a doctor visit with $50 co pay for emergency room. Part B deductible is not covered, and Part B excess charges are not paid for by the insurance company which Plan G includes.
Caution: Do not cancel your existing policy until you have been approved by your new Medicare Supplement insurance company.
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