Big Changes Are Coming for Medicare Plan F
Every year brings new changes to Medicare, with seniors facing new plan choices, new costs, and new coverage specifications. And most Medicare subscribers don’t learn about these changes until open enrollment begins in October – but this year, you’ll want to be prepared.
For 2020, there’s a big change coming to Medicare. Plan F, one of the most popular supplemental plans, could disappear. And that single change could affect millions of seniors.
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If Plan F is no longer available, your coverage could look very different next year. So, before the new year arrives, here’s what you need to know about Medicare and the future of Plan F.
Supplemental Plans – Including Plan F – Are Changing
One of the most popular aspects of Medicare is the ability to add supplemental coverage. Medicare subscribers who need additional coverage that goes beyond what traditional Medicare offers can choose a supplemental plan that works for their health, their needs.
And Plan F in particular has been a very popular supplemental plan. Also known as Medigap Plan F, this supplemental plan was created to help seniors fill gaps in their regular Medicare coverage. Subscribers could, in years past, add to Original Medicare (Parts A and B) with special prescription coverage plans, Medicare Part C, and Plan F.
However, when open enrollment begins in fall 2019, there will be big changes to these supplemental plans. And Plan F in particular will be affected.
A longtime favorite because of its comprehensive coverage, Plan F reduced seniors’ out-of-pocket expenses and covered procedures and services that Parts A and B did not¹. But Plan F will no longer be available for new Medicare subscribers.
Starting in 2020, the U.S. government has decided to stop offering Plan F. And that isn’t the only change happening – Plan C, another supplemental coverage option, will also disappear.
Why Is Plan F Disappearing?
As one of the most popular supplemental plans, it’s shocking that Plan F is suddenly going away. And if you’re wondering why Plan F won’t be available any longer, you aren’t alone.
Many Medicare subscribers were shocked when Congress announced sweeping changes to Medicare supplements. These changes aren’t uncommon – they’ve actually happened almost every decade, with former Medicare parts E, H, I, and J eliminated in 1990 and 2010². So, just 10 years later, two more parts of Medicare are being axed.
Plan F (and Plan C) are part of a larger plan to fix Medicare gaps. For years, doctors have lobbied the federal government to close pay gaps. Many doctors who took on Medicare patients lost income or, even worse, weren’t fairly paid for their services. So, in 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) that’s meant to close the doctor payment gap³.
The good news is this legislation will motivate more doctors to stay in the Medicare program. And that means more seniors can continue to see their regular doctors – and the doctors will accept Medicare plans.
But here’s the bad news: Plan F and Part C are disappearing because of this. Congress needed money in order to make these large changes to Medicare, and seniors are paying the price.
Medicare Subscribers Need to Prepare for These Changes
It’s true that Plan F will no longer be available in 2020. And you should see the change as early as the upcoming open enrollment period, which runs from October to December 2019.
Fortunately, when the change happens, you’ll have plenty of time to prepare. You’ll just need to know what to do when open enrollment begins.
Here are the steps Medicare subscribers need to take regarding Plan F⁴:
- Current Plan F Subscribers: Check your Medicare policy notices to see if any new changes will affect your coverage. If you’re already subscribed to Plan F, you will be able to keep that plan.
- Current Medicare Enrollees: If you’re currently enrolled in Medicare or will become eligible for Medicare before January 1, 2020, you may still be able to purchase Plan F. You should compare Plan F to other available supplemental plans to see if Plan F is still the best choice.
- Future Medicare Enrollees: If you will qualify for Medicare on January 1, 2020 or after, you will not be able to buy Plan F. You’ll need to shop around and search for other supplemental options.
If you’re a current Medicare subscriber or plan to enroll before 2019 ends, you may not need to worry about the upcoming loss of Plan F. However, if you’ll be eligible for Medicare once 2020 begins, you’ll need to consider other options.
And no matter what your Medicare coverage includes, it’s always a good idea to be aware of the latest plans. Each year during open enrollment, you have the opportunity to compare your plan to new options, check pricing, and determine whether or not you might need to make a change.
Often, when supplemental plans change, Medicare prices can fluctuate. That’s why every senior should make the effort to research available plans and find the latest pricing. The disappearance of Plan F could affect you financially – whether or not you’re a subscriber. And you need to be on top of your coverage and your premiums.