Paul Barrett Insurance Services Blog
The Coverage Gap or Donut Hole (or Doughnut Hole) has caused a considerable amount of confusion for many people when they suddenly are required to pay a higher price (or before 2011, the full price) for their prescription medications. The following brief overview is based on the 2019 Medicare Standard Benefit Plan Model. Quick OverviewHere is a quick overview of the Donut Hole or Coverage Gap.
Are you considering Medicare Supplement insurance? Medicare Supplement plans, also called Medigap plans, can help pay for out-of-pocket costs for services covered by Original Medicare (Part A and B). It’s important to select a Medigap plan option that fits your health-care needs now and in the future because, depending on the timing of when you enroll, you might not be able to switch plans later.
There are 10 standardized Medigap plans available in every state (excluding Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, which all have their own versions). Each plan has a letter designation (Plan F, for example) and is sold by private insurance companies across the country. While the prices may vary across different insurers, the benefits of each Medigap plan are standardized across plans of the same letter. This means that coverage for Medigap Plan F, for example, will be the same regardless of the insurance provider.
Medicare Supplement Plans F, G, and N offer many of the same benefits, with a few differences, which this article will share.
Medicare Supplement Plan F Medigap Plan F is a popular choice that offers more coverage than any other Medicare Supplement plan. There is also a high-deductible Plan F that offers the same benefits as the standard Plan F, but requires you to pay a certain amount out of pocket before coverage starts.
Plan F benefits include:
Because Medigap Plan F offers the most benefits, it is usually the most expensive; however, this may not always be the case, and you should shop around to find the best plan option for you.
You may be able to find other Medigap plans with lower premiums than Plan F. But if you see your doctor a lot or face high out-of-pocket costs, Plan F generally gives you the most help with Original Medicare costs.
Medicare Supplement Plan G Medigap Plan G offers all of the benefits of Plan F, with the exception of the Part B deductible. If you choose Plan G, you’ll need to pay the standard annual Medicare Part B deductible ($185 in 2019) out of pocket.
It’s worth noting that both Plan F and Plan G cover Medicare Part B excess charges, and they are the only Medicare Supplement plans to do so. Excess charges are the difference in cost between what a non-participating doctor or health-care provider charges for a medical service and the Medicare-approved amount. If you see a non-participating provider, he or she is allowed to charge up to 15% above what Medicare has approved for a covered service, which you’ll normally be responsible for paying.
Medicare Supplement Plan N Medigap Plan N covers all the same benefits as Plan F with the exceptions of the:
What else do I need to know about Medigap Plan F, Plan G, and Plan N?If you’re thinking of signing up for Medigap insurance, a good time to enroll is during the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, which starts when you have Part B and are 65 or older. During this six-month period, you have a special right to join any Medigap plan offered by any insurance company in your service area with “guaranteed issue“; in other words, you can’t be turned down for health reasons or charged a higher premium if you have pre-existing conditions. After your Medigap Open Enrollment Period is over, it may be harder to enroll in a plan or switch plans if you don’t have guaranteed-issue rights. Medigap insurance companies can require medical underwriting or deny you coverage, especially if you have health problems.
Please note that a Medigap plan won’t work with a Medicare Advantage plan and can’t be used to pay for Medicare Part C costs. In most cases, you can’t be enrolled in both a Medicare Advantage plan and a Medigap plan, and it’s illegal for anyone to sell you a Medigap policy if they know you have a Medicare Advantage plan (unless you’re switching back to Original Medicare coverage). Also, Medigap plans don’t include prescription drug coverage, and if you’d like prescription drug benefits in addition to your Original Medicare coverage, you’ll need to enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
If you’d like to find a Medigap plan option to supplement your Original Medicare coverage, or if you have questions about other Medicare plan options, you can: