It almost seems as though there are too many Medicare plan choices. Should you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan? Is it best to buy a Medigap policy?
These are questions you can ask once you a firm grip on how the plans work and what that will mean for your healthcare and budget.
If you have any confusion about the different types of plans, sign up for our Free 8 Part Video Mini-Course. A lesson will arrive in your in box daily for 8 days and will dispel any confusion you may have.
Once you have a firm understanding of your options, you may want to get to know a little more about Medigap Plan N. Many people previously enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan found plan N to be a good alternative.
A brief overview
Most people know Medigap by its more common name; Medicare supplement insurance. A Medicare supplement is not an Advantage plan. A supplement is offered by a private insurance company to fill the gaps that original Medicare Parts A and B leave for the beneficiary. Normally this would be the Parts A and B deductibles and the 20% coinsurance for outpatient services.
You must maintain your Parts A and B (and pay the Part B premium) while paying the insurance carrier a premium for your supplement. An Advantage Plan, on the other hand, is when a private insurance company contracts with the government to administer your Medicare Plan. You still maintain Parts A and B and pay the Part B premium when you elect an Advantage Plan.
Originally, the benefit with an Advantage Plan was that you avoided the high monthly premium of a Medicare supplement. You also had some affordable cost sharing in the form of deductibles, coinsurance and co-pays with an Advantage Plan. Or, if there was a premium, in many cases it was considerably smaller that a premium for a supplement.
Reasons to consider Medigap Plan N
Here are some good reasons to consider Medigap Plan N. Keep in mind that everyone has different needs and not all features will appeal to everyone.
- No network restrictions. Use any provider that accepts Medicare.
- Plan design allows premiums to be lower than many Advantage Plans.
- No out of pocket costs for hospital stays. Part A deductible is paid by the plan ($1316 for 2017).
- Foreign travel covered in emergency situations.
- Skilled nursing facility coinsurance covered.
- Includes 100% Part B coinsurance (no 20% responsibility), except up to a $20 co-payment for office visit and up to $50 co-payment for ER.
- Generally no underwriting except for renal disease question.
- Premiums lower than most other standardized plans and often lower than an Advantage plan.
- No restrictive enrollment periods.
This plan is almost a hybrid. You have the benefits of a supplement and the convenience of an Advantage Plan. The co-pays for office visit and ER are a small price to pay for a substantially reduced premium.
What’s the catch?
If you are looking for an Advantage plan with a $0 premium, this is not it. But in the long run, you may pay less with Medigap Plan N than an Advantage Plan. Just the fact that you will not pay a deductible or a copay,
for a limited number of days, if you are hospitalized is huge! Not to mention that many Advantage Plans now offer the same benefit for outpatient surgery and durable medical equipment as original Medicare. That is, they pay 80% and you pay 20%.
Think about it. You have an Advantage Plan with little or no premium but you have to pay 20% for outpatient surgery. You may reach your maximum amount out of pocket quickly (which will most likely be more than the annual premium for Medigap Plan N.
The second thing to consider is that Medigap Plan N, like all Medicare supplements, will not include prescription drug coverage. You will need to purchase a stand alone Part D plan. I encourage you to explore your options to determine if a Medigap Plan N is right for you.
To learn more about your plan options, you can visit the EHealthInsurance website or speak with a local agent who specializes in Medicare insurance plan options.