We have received a 15% increase on our Plan F Medicare Supplements effective November 1. I am a 70-year-old female in good health, but my husband, Sam, is undergoing cancer treatment. Also, his cardiologist has advised him that he may need a pacemaker.
My friends have told me that we will have to wait until Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) to change from our current Medicare Supplement plans.
I am concerned that with this 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 Sam’s cancer issues?
- Sarah from Nashville, Tenn.
You were given inaccurate information from a caring friend, Sarah. I have good news for you because you do not have to wait until Medicare’s AEP to change your Medicare Supplement. You can change your Medicare Supplement Plan F anytime during the year. Medicare’s AEP is the time to change only your Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan.
The Medicare Supplement renewal increases are more than the public was expecting for Plans F and C. 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 updated Medicare Supplement’s plans F and C which began January 1, 2020. That is when Medicare Supplement Plan F and C rate increases began.
Anyone who wants to change Medicare Supplement plans and has been enrolled in Medicare Part B longer than 6 months must answer health underwriting questions regarding current and past health issues. This is what you and your husband will have to do to change Medicare Supplement companies and plans, Sarah.
You have an option to change from your current Medicare Supplement Plan F to a different Medicare Supplement company or a different type of Medicare Supplement plan such as Plan G or N. Both you and Sam must qualify by answering medical underwriting questions to change Medicare Supplemental plans, but Sam may have difficulty qualifying for a new Medicare Supplement because of his cancer and heart issues.
If you and/or he 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’s AEP, from October 15 through December 7 every year.
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Below is what Medicare Supplement Plans G and N offer if you change from a Medicare Supplement Plan F:
- Medicare Supplement Plan G: Lower premiums 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 2023 is $226. (2024 Part B deductible has not been announced yet.)
- Medicare Supplement Plan N: Lower premiums than Plan G but with more out-of-pocket costs. There is a $20 copay for a doctor visit with $50 copay for an emergency room visit. Part B deductible is not covered, and, unlike plan G, Part B excess charges are not paid for by the insurance company.
Caution: Do NOT cancel your existing policy until you have been approved by your new Medicare Supplement insurance company.
Your friends mean well, but taking their Medicare advice can lead you down the wrong path.
Toni King is an author and columnist on Medicare and health insurance issues. She has spent nearly 30 years as a top sales leader in the field. If you have a Medicare question, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 832-519-8664. Toni’s books are available at www.tonisays.com with a bundle discount for Toni Says readers.